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'A good-hearted person': Family remembers life of murdered Midlands teen

Deputies made an arrest last week after an 18-year-old admitted to killing Imani Gleaton.
Credit: WLTX

ST MATTHEWS, S.C. — The family of a South Carolina teen missing since July is remembering her life after learning she was murdered. 

Back on July 10, 18-year-old Imani Gleaton was reported missing.

RELATED: Missing SC woman last seen two weeks ago, deputies say

Gleaton was reportedly seen being dropped off at a relative’s apartment after leaving her place of employment in St. Matthews.

Gleaton was initially reported missing in Calhoun County before being determined to have last been seen in Orangeburg County.

RELATED: Missing Calhoun County teen has ties to Orangeburg, Columbia, Batesburg-Leesville

Latoya Logan, Gleaton's aunt, raised her since she was five-years old.

"Imani was like a quite-type girl," Logan said. "She always liked to watch TV, stay on her phone, stay locked up in her room ... comes out whenever she's got to do something or hang out with her friends."

Credit: WLTX

Gleaton recently graduated from Calhoun County High School.

"The most thing I miss about her, what I'm going to miss, is that when I come home, it's always, 'Auntie! Auntie! Auntie!' Something she's got to tell me," Logan explained.

It's been a difficult few months for Logan and her family as they searched for Gleaton.

"The last part was hard because every day, I'm wondering where she was. I was calling her phone just to see if it would get cut on," Logan said. "Checking with the investigators, seeing if anything comes up. Just every day wondering where she's at."

Credit: Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office

The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department announced last week they made an arrest in the case.

Deputies say Jykeem Johnson, 18, has been charged with murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection with the death of Gleaton.

RELATED: Man admits to killing missing SC teen and burying her, deputies say

Logan learned the news on Thursday when she was coming home from work.

"You just can't image what we're going through, just to hear what happened to her," Logan explained. "But I just thank God that he just let us know what happened to her, taken to where she was."

Johnson, with addresses in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties, was charged in unrelated cases earlier last week with attempted murder and also armed robbery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

While speaking with investigators about unrelated crimes, deputies say Johnson volunteered that he had killed Gleaton and buried her near Elloree.

Warrants indicate that Johnson shot the Gleaton sometime on July 11. 

During last Friday’s hearing, bond for Johnson was deferred to a circuit court judge.

"He let the police know where she was. That's the most important thing to me cause he could have just went on in and take this charge and not let nobody know nothing cause where she was, we would have never found her," Logan explained. "By him giving up that information, gave me peace."

One of Gleaton's cousins, who didn't want to be identified, says the situation has hurt them.

"I feel like her family grieves more that a loved one was not lost but it was taken from us," one cousin said. "To me, that hurts me more. To know that throughout the course of the past few months, we had been on the search looking for her and trying to find her, and to know all this time that my cousin was buried in a cemetery by the same person who killed her, it tore me apart."

The Orangeburg County Sherriff's Office says they were able to recover Gleaton's body on Thursday.

"I want you to know that Imani was a good, sweet person, a good-hearted person, don't bother nobody at all," Logan said. "All she wanted to do was watch TV and be on her phone."

The family says community support has been helpful during this difficult time, with many people showing support through Facebook, phone calls and texts.

The family will have a memorial service for Gleaton on Saturday.