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Amber Elkins (20) was killed by a man that she had been dating for a month
Published: Aug 12, 2011 @ 3:24 PM
Amber Elkins (20)
Jul 24, 2011
Cause of Death:
Montgomery County, TX
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They were shaken to tears as they took turns bouncing the 9-month-old girl on their laps, an infant who would never see her mother again.
A cousin and a sibling admired the baby's smile. Grandparents held the girl. An uncle watched, breaking into an grin to entertain the child with the pink bow in her hair. The body of her mother, 20-year-old Amber Chantel Elkins, had been discovered hours earlier in a wooded area near a bridge in Montgomery County, ending a week-long search.
Baby Ava Nicole Ferrata even clutched a candle that was half the length of her body as a vigil began late Sunday in honor of Elkins, a woman who relatives said tried to help everyone she met, even at her own peril.
"I will make sure she knows how special of a mother she had," said Ashley Davis, 25, Elkins' sister.
Volunteers from Texas EquuSearch combed more than 12 miles of heavily wooded areas near the location of her dark green Chevrolet Trail Blazer, which was found Tuesday in a lot in the 13900 block of Homestead near Humble. The front passenger door's window was broken out and a substantial amount of blood was visible inside the vehicle, authorities said.
EquuSearch founder and director Tim Miller would not comment on the condition of Elkins' body, other than to say that it was intact. The Harris County Sheriff's Office was leading an investigation into the incident, and 31-year-old James David Clarke Jr. was charged Saturday with her murder.
Elkins was last seen with Clarke, who family members say she had been dating for about a month. Elkins never showed up to a court date Monday to start a custody hearing about her daughter.
Her family on Sunday spoke of Elkins being manipulated and transformed by a drug abuser with a long criminal history, who is accused of taking her life.
Clarke's criminal history includes multiple jail sentences for felony convictions of cocaine possession, unauthorized use of a vehicle, trespassing, evading detention, assault involving bodily injury, robbery involving bodily injury and theft.
"This was a man who was trying to take advantage of a child who didn't know what she was going through," her father Michael Elkins, 44, said.
Family members said Elkins had started using cocaine and methamphetamine after becoming acquainted with Clarke.
Ava's father, 26-year-old Frank Ferrata, said Elkins had given him the baby to stay with him in Midway. "She gave me the baby," Ferrata said. "I think she knew what was going on and she knew it was unsafe around that guy," Ferrata said.
Still, Ferrata, a Marine veteran who was injured during war operations in Iraq, believed he and Elkins would reunite and get married.
They spent a recent weekend together, riding to Galveston on Feratta's Harley-Davidson motorcycle, lying together on a beach and holding each other when it was time for him to go back to Midway. Ferrata said he, Elkins and their daughter moved to Midway to get away from negative influences around them in Houston, but Elkins was unhappy there.
When she returned to Houston on her own, she became acquainted with people who changed her, he said.
"She had such a good heart, but she had a tendency to be so naive," Davis said. "She just wanted to help everybody and I guess he used that to his advantage."
Family members said they planned to attend every hearing for Clarke, including one expected on Monday.
Michael Elkins, his voice shaking, expressed his gratitude to a crowd of EquuSearch volunteers at VFW Post 10352, near Bush Intercontinental Airport, late Sunday. He said he was overcome with emotions when he drove up to the site last week and saw a crowd of volunteers preparing to search for his daughter.
"The only thing that came to my mind is, 'Why?' " he said. "Why do you do what you do?"
He said that he would commit himself to helping EquuSearch help other victims and their families, just as they had committed to helping his.
"No matter what, you call me," he said. "I'm going to be here."
Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7677809.html#ixzz1UlIO9SKx
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