The heartbroken mother of a bright 15-year-old girl broke down in tears tonight as she paid tribute to her ‘thoughtful, kind daughter’ at a vigil held for teenager who was tragically stabbed to death on her way to school.
Aspiring lawyer Elianne Andam died yesterday morning after being stabbed in the neck outside the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, South London.
Tonight, friends and family of the schoolgirl gathered where she had died, with her tearful mother Dorcas Andam, an NHS children’s nurse, speaking of her beloved daughter calling her ‘a beautiful person inside and out’.
The grieving mother, who was consoled by her husband Michael and 30 relatives, including the teenager’s aunts and cousins, said: ‘We as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne.
‘Our hearts are broken. And we are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief. Our faith in the Lord is strengthening us. We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to send us thoughtful and compassionate messages and prayers. …
‘Elianne was a beautiful person inside and out who loved Jesus. She was intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead. It is our request that you keep our cherished daughter Elianne and our family, in your thoughts and prayers.’
The teenager was killed at 8.30am yesterday on route to the private Old Palace of John Whitgift School as she reportedly stood up for a friend who was involved in a heated row with an ex-boyfriend.
Elianne Andam was on her way to school when she was attacked in Wellesley Road at approximately 08:30am on Wednesday
Dorcas Andam, in the black-and-white dress, arrived at the scene in Croydon where her 15-year-old daughter Elianne was stabbed to death on Wednesday morning
Bishop of Croydon, right, Rosemarie Mallett, read aloud a statement written by the family shortly before 7pm.
NHS children’s nurse Dorcas Andam, wearing a black and white dress, was consoled by her husband Michael and 30 relatives
A female officer is comforted by her colleague as they attended the vigil this afternoon
Mourners laid flowers at the spot where Elianne was stabbed to death yesterday morning on her way to school
Mrs Andam added: ‘We kindly ask for your consideration to also respect our need for privacy as we attempt to come to grips with our deeply devastating loss.’
Distraught relatives were seen arriving in a fleet of cars from the family home half-a-mile away at 6pm and were escorted through the police cordon by senior officers.
The heartbroken parents stayed at the scene for 15-minutes, while other relatives stayed longer as more flowers were placed at the scene.
Bishop Mark Nicholson, from Croydon’s Acts Christian Church, who just moments before had led a community vigil by the police cordon, was summoned by Elianne’s mother to join in prayers.
Meanwhile a 17-year-old boy remains in custody in a police station in south London after being arrested on suspicion of murder.
He was caught just 75 minutes after Elianne was attacked on a tram five miles away in New Addington.
Police officers have now been given a further 12 hours to quiz the suspect, with the Metropolitan Police saying they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
Elianne was reportedly attacked after a row broke out on the No 60 bus during rush hour yesterday morning, before spilling onto the street near East Croydon station.
The teenage boy, who wore a black blazer, is said to have stabbed the schoolgirl in the neck and chest with a ‘sword-like’ zombie knife after the victim tried to break up a fight between him and her friend.
The family said in a statement: ‘We, as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne.’
Elianne’s aunt Marian (pictured in the beige cardigan) was consoled as they looked at the bus the teenager had been sat on moments before she was killed
Elianne’s mother, far right, and family arrived at the vigil where she was murdered in Croydon
Elianne’s devastated mother arrived at the vigil with her family and stayed only a short while
Police officers lay flowers at the scene in Croydon, south London, where 15-year-old Elianne Andam was stabbed to death on Wednesday
Tonight tearful family and friends of Elianne gathered for a vigil after the aspiring lawyer was murdered on her way to school
A community vigil was held at Wellesley Road in Croydon where Elianne Andam was murdered
A young man lays a bunch of flowers in tribute to Elianne Andam who died yesterday
According to witnesses, the friend had rejected his love letter and flowers leading to an argument. Forensic scientists were later seen picking up blood stained red roses and a note from the ground, taking them away from the scene.
A bus driver and passenger battled to save Elianne but she tragically died on the pavement minutes after the attack. Her family, who had been called to the scene, rushed down to the bus stop but she died at 9.21am – before they could say goodbye.
Bishop of Croydon, Rosemarie Mallett, read aloud a statement written by the family shortly before 7pm.
Flanked by Elianne’s tearful aunt Marian, the Bishop said: ‘We, as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne.
‘Our hearts are broken. And we are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief our faith in the Lord is strengthening us.
‘We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to send us thoughtful and compassionate messages and prayers.
‘We kindly ask for your consideration to also respect our need for privacy as we attempt to come to grips with our deeply devastating loss.
‘Elianne was a beautiful person inside and out who loved Jesus.
‘She was intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead of her.
‘It is our request that you keep our cherished daughter Elianne and our family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you very much.’
Earlier in the evening, community leaders Anthony King, Donna Murray-Turner and James Watkins addressed a crowd of 50 well wishers.
Mr King, who runs My Ends, said: ‘Many narratives have gone out in relation to what happened.
Relatives of murdered 15-year-old Elianne Andam react as they visit the scene of her murder at a bus stop, outside the Whitgift Centre on Wellesley Road
Locals pray at the scene where Elianne Andam was fatally stabbed on September 28
Elianne died at the scene at 09:21. An arrest was made at 09:45 and he is likely to have been known to the victim
A 17-year-old boy, who knew the victim, was arrested just over an hour after the attack
Tearful members of the public joined a vigil for Elianne as prayers were said
Those who attended the vigil were seen hugging each other
A police cordon was held up to let family and friends of Elianne walk to the spot where she had been killed
Elianne’s mother, dressed in a black and white dress, was supported by friends, family and police officers at the vigil
‘Regardless of what happened this was a 15 year old girl with a bright future ahead of her.
‘She went to a brilliant school where so many children have come today and laid flowers.
‘We have tried hard over the last few years to reduce knife crime… we will not stop in that pursuit.
‘We won’t stop until we can get rid of this.
‘The family are absolutely grieving… a child’s life hasn’t even started at 15.’
Ms Murray-Turner, chairwoman of the local Safer Neighbourhood Board, told crowds that Elianne’s friends were ‘sobbing’ and ‘so emotional’ at her school on Thursday.
She said she read messages in a book of condolence and they ‘talk about her laugh’.
She added: ‘Staff, teachers, talked about when she entered a room you knew she was there. And her friends, as you can imagine, were sobbing. They were so emotional.’
Ms Murray-Turner added that a meeting will be held at Croydon Town Hall on Monday at 6pm, where the agenda will be about violence against women and girls.
Earlier today it was revealed that Elianne said ‘I’m not afraid to die, I’m going to heaven,’ just one day before she was stabbed to death.
One of her close friends, who goes by bethkayyx on TikTok, said: ‘We were talking about death and she said ‘I’m not afraid to die, I’m going to heaven and that’s that’.
She added that Elianne ‘always talked’ about how she ‘wasn’t afraid’ to die and was a ‘heavenly believer’.
Paying tribute to her beloved friend on the online video sharing platform, she described their close bond and the devastation she has faced since yesterday morning.
A forensic investigator onboard the bus where the argument is believed to have started
Privacy screens and a tent outside the Whitgift centre in Croydon while a bus sits beside the pavement nearby
Forensic officers walk past the scene, which features several privacy screens
Elianne is the 15th teenage homicide victim in London so far in 2023.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley have both visited the scene of the killing.
Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.
A 17-year-old boy, who knew the victim, was arrested just over an hour after the attack, which happened in busy Wellesley Road. He remains in police custody after officers were given more time to question him.
‘This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and I know the officers who responded this morning, along with our emergency service colleagues, are devastated at the victim’s death,’ Spt Brittain said.
‘This is an emotion I share and I know people across Croydon will be feeling the same.
‘The victim’s family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at what must be an incredibly difficult time.
‘We carried out urgent inquiries to find the suspect and within 75 minutes of the incident happening a 17-year-old boy was arrested in New Addington. He remains in custody and will be questioned by detectives.
‘We remain in the early stages of our investigation, however based on what we know so far we believe that we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this offence.
‘From our initial inquiries, we believe the suspect may have known the victim. However, we’re not in a position to release the victim’s identity at this time.’
Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Woodsford, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘My thoughts and the thoughts of my team are with Elianne’s family.
‘This is a deeply upsetting time for them and we will do everything we can to support them.’
She said officers are making ‘good progress’ in their investigation and are confident the attack happened near the bus stop rather than on a bus.
Police were seen on Thursday afternoon searching a drain in front of a bus parked within the cordon and also searching long grass earlier in the day.
The Prime Minister said he is shocked and appalled at Elianne’s death and said sentences for knife-related crimes should be toughened.
Rishi Sunak told BBC London’s political editor Tim Donovan: ‘Everyone will be looking at that and be shocked as I am, appalled by what’s happened and, quite frankly, angry. It just illustrates the importance of clamping down on knife crime.’
Witnesses or anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep. To remain anonymous, contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.