COLUMBIA, S.C. — A lot can change in just over a week.
Melvin Brown and his family know change firsthand.
A ring on the phone is now a bittersweet reminder of just how different things are since, investigators say, Jessie Brown, 83, and Shaneal, 18, were killed.
"Of course, I’m like, ‘Wow. Who is this?'," Brown said. "They were like, ‘Can I speak to Shaneal Brown?'…. 'We're from Clinton College,' and I was like, ‘Well, you know, Shaneal is deceased."
Shaneal Brown, his niece, was set to graduate from Eau Claire High School this month.
Friends say she was loving with high goals.
"She was funny; had a sense of humor," Brown said. "She definitely was full of life.”
The principal said she will be recognized at graduation.
Brown said his mother Jessie lived a life of service, working at Hyatt Park Elementary and later Fantasy Island Daycare in Columbia.
"We’re just going to miss the lady who had the faith that moved mountains," Brown said. "She just had a heart of gold.”
He said his brother Rafael, who is accused in their deaths, suffered from mental illness.
"I'm not mad at him ‘cause I knew what he was going through," Brown said. "She just didn’t deserve her life taken like that…. Honestly, we’re just going to take it every second, every minute, every hour."
The funeral will be held May 21 at noon at Progressive Church, 2222 Barhamville Rd. in Columbia.
Rafael Brown is being held at the Richland County Jail.