LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — It has been a little more than 18 months since Amaya Sandifer was shot and killed in a double homicide here in Lexington.
Family and friends said her legacy will live on forever. On Sunday, Nov. 19, a memorial at Evergreen Memory Gardens will be unveiled, furthering that fact.
For Amaya’s mother, Priscilla, the last 18 months have felt like a never-ending nightmare.
“It’s like I’m living a nightmare because my baby girl, my only child, my best friend forever, is no longer here. I have to get up every day, lay down, and go to sleep at night, knowing that I’m missing the phone calls, the text messages, the face times, the hugs, the kisses, the ‘Mom, I love you.’ Just the camaraderie that we had as mother and daughter—we were almost like sisters in sort of a way because our relationship was just truly amazing. Amaya was an amazing child that I was blessed to have for only 20 years.”
On the night Amaya was killed, May 7, 2022, Priscilla didn’t know the full scope of what happened to her daughter at first.
“I had gotten a phone call saying that she was in an accident. So first off, I thought car accident. You know, I wasn’t thinking anything worse. I was thinking, you know, oh, Lord, you know, she might have a broken bone or, you know, how severe is this car accident?”
Amaya was dropping off friends at Green Acres Park.
It was a scene that Priscilla will never forget.
“Once I got to the scene, it was a sea of red once I turned onto that street. One of Amaya’s best friend’s mothers at that point started walking over to me with her hand stretched out and started crying, and I’m looking at her as, you know, like, what’s going on? So, I’m standing there on the sidewalk, and I take inventory of my surroundings, and then the Lord placed it in my spirit that Amaya had passed away.”
While she knows her daughter is gone, Priscilla still holds out hope that Amaya will come home.
“It’s almost like I’m holding my breath in hope that she will come home, or I’ll get that text message or that call. I will never have the opportunity to be a grandmother. I’ll never have the opportunity to see my child walk down the aisle or purchase her first home. I’ll never have that opportunity. It was taken from me by cowards.”
We spoke with Priscilla just as she and her family began the process of going through Amaya’s belongings.
“The process of going through most things has been very difficult for me. I mean, extremely difficult. I just went into Amaya’s room a week ago for the first time. That was with much prayer that I was able to go into her room. I can sometimes glance at a picture of Amaya, but as far as me, like looking through my phone or her phone or photo albums, I can’t do that. I’m not there yet.”
In her grief, Priscilla has become closer than ever with her daughter’s friends.
“They still call and text, and check on me just to make sure that I’m OK. You know, I’ll get a text and say, you know, ‘Mom, I was just thinking about you. Are you OK? Do you need anything?’ And I thank God for that. I thank God for the friends that I had while she was here for 20 years.”
She’s also been an advocate for gun violence reform in our community.
“It is an epidemic across the country. First of all, we need stricter gun laws. First of all, that would help out greatly the young society of today. They’re very different from even when I was a teenager or, you know, an adolescent. They don’t have respect for themselves. They don’t respect their parents.”
Amaya would’ve been 22 years old had she been still alive and a graduate of Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in public health.
Priscilla is adamant that the world would be her daughter’s oyster if she were still alive.
“She was going back to get her master’s, and she wanted to travel and just enjoy life. You know, she was 20 years old. She was looking forward to turning 21. The only thing she wanted for her 21st birthday was a photo shoot. She wanted to just have a photo shoot, you know, change her outfits a few times, and enjoy life.”
When people see Amaya’s memorial, Priscilla hopes people remember the person her daughter was.
“The light that she brought into the room, her smile, her dimples, her contagious laugh, the love that she had for other people and for children. And then the work that she was going to do in her career—you know, that was all taken from her. She was looking forward to working on her career, you know, graduating college, getting her master’s, and just living her life, just being a young person.”
Amaya’s memorial unveiling will be at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Lexington at 3 p.m. Sunday and is open to the public.
The person who shot Amaya is still at large, and Priscilla is pleading that if anyone has information on her daughter’s killer, please don’t be afraid to speak up.