KENTWOOD, Mich. -- Family and friends of 16-year-old Mujey Dumbuya gathered Tuesday afternoon at a press conference to discuss the teen's death and the lack of arrests in the case so far.
Dumbuya, 16, was found dead in a wooded area in Kalamazoo on Jan. 28. The East Kentwood High School student was reported missing four days earlier.
Mujey's aunts gave emotional pleas to the community for information in the case on Tuesday. They also reflected on the life she led, describing a lovable, energetic teen taken from her family much too soon.
"It's a tragedy that has befallen the community," said Mujey's aunt Jainya Sannoh during the press conference. "People think it's just Mujey's family, but it's not just Mujey's family. It's a community thing. I can't even imagine in her 16 years on this Earth, she had so much influence, a lot of influence on people's lives once she passed away. So it's not just about family, but it's a tragedy that came to this community. We are heartbroken, we are devastated."
In 2006, when she was just 3 years old, Mujey and her family came to the United States from Sierra Leone. It's what Mujey's aunt called their second chance at life.
"We fought for our lives to be here," Sannoh said. "We have come a long way and here we are and this is what we are faced with."
While no arrests have been made in Mujey's death, the Kent County Prosecutor's Office says Dumbuya was the victim in a sex assault case that was set to go to trial later this year.
The accused rapist, Quinn James, is considered a person of interest in her death. He is currently behind bars on separate assault charges from 2014 involving another teenage girl.
James worked for Kentwood Public Schools as a grounds and maintenance worker. The district says he was fired after the reports of sexual assault against Dumbuya. Prosecutors say that despite her death, they plan to move forward with the trial against James.
The biggest point Mujey's family made Tuesday is that if anyone knows anything about what happened to her, they should contact law enforcement or Silent Observer.
"I'm just pleading with the community," Sannoh said. "I'm pleading with everybody to please come forward if you've seen anything. Probably just one little thing will have a break in this case."
Anyone with information on this case can contact Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.
A GoFundMe page has been started to help Mujey's family cover legal expenses.