INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Heaven Hughes’ mother was only 13-years-old when she gave birth to her first born.
That daughter is now 9-years-old and struggling with the murders of her absentee mother and father in two separate drug-related killings within days earlier this month.
“I thought my life was all ruined and I thought I had no more parents,” said Heaven. “I thought I was having a horrible life.”
The pain of Heaven’s infancy and childhood belies the third grader’s gap toothed smile and outgoing personality.
“She’s a very special child. I’ve had her since she was two weeks old,” said Joyce Banks, Heaven’s great-great aunt. “She’s doing real good considering what happened.”
What happened was on the night of April 3, someone with a gun burst into the apartment of Lonniesha Wellington, her husband and two small children in the 4000 block of Meadows Drive, killing the young mother, wounding the man and leaving the youngsters uninjured.
Lonniesha Wellington was Heaven Hughes’ mother.
“I started busting out in tears because I was scared and didn’t know what to do,” said Heaven, “because I really love my mom.”
In the days after the murder, Heaven turned to her father who was in and out of the child’s life because he was often in and out of jail.
She left a message on Hill’s cell phone reminding him they had a dad and daughter date set up for the end of the week.
Instead of planning a special day with his grieving daughter, on April 7 Terrance Hill was found shot to death in an apartment on the city’s south side after a night of partying.
Joyce Banks was so drained from Lonnisha’s killing earlier in the week that she sent her grandson to break the news of Hill’s death to Heaven.
“He told me my dad died and when I heard that I really started crying and I just stood there,” recalled Heaven. “I thought I had just one bad week because it was hard for me and I couldn’t let it go and I’m still counting days how long it has been since I saw my mom and how long it has been since I saw my dad.”
Since then, Heaven has leaned on her family, teachers and friends at school to get through worse month than many adults ever had.
She counsels another child whose father was also shot.
“Its hard for a grown up to soak that in,” said Banks. “Its really been hard for her because of her parents are missing. I can’t make up for the mom and the dad.”
Banks took her great great niece in so the youngster wouldn’t become a ward of the system despite her parents’ denial of daily family responsibilities.
“I think because a lot of the parents are young themselves that they try to be the kids friends instead of a parent, they end up buddies, and they don’t know how to grow up because a lot of times they haven’t been taught to do, so how can they raise another child when they don’t know themselves?” asked Banks. “I think a lot of young people think, ‘I can make a lot more money selling drugs than working on the job,’ but with that you don’t have to watch your back when you’re working a legal job and its dangerous and not only to herself but to the kids also.”
Banks is thankful Heaven didn’t visit her mother the night of the murder because she likely would have tried to protect Lonniesha.
“I know my mom is okay and my dad is okay,” said Heaven. “I know they love me and I love them, too, and I hope you’re watching this, mom and dad, because I love them as much as I love anybody else.”
Heaven says she wants to be an artist, fashion designer or even a TV reporter someday.
Her family has established a GoFundMe account to help raise the money to raise the little girl with no parents and in order to make her dreams come true.