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Friends, family hold candlelight vigil to honor mother who was violently slain

Jennifer Kitchens Wells vigil

Family and friends gathered to honor the life of Jennifer Kitchens Wells, who was murdered last week. (WRDW-TV / Oct. 7, 2011)

News 12 at This Morning / Friday, Oct. 7, 2011

THOMSON, Ga. -- Thursday night marked one week since Jennifer Kitchens Wells was brutally murdered and had her body dragged for miles across county lines.

Jennifer's family hosted a candlelight vigil to honor her life and invited News 12 to come and share in those special memories.

The gathering was an emotional one. Some were crying, others were laughing as they remembered their friend and mother, Jennifer.

It's only been a week since the 36-year-old mother of two passed away, but her family says they are already trying to move forward.

They sang "This Little Light of Mine" at the ceremony -- Jennifer's favorite Sunday school song growing up. They say Jennifer was their light, and now they're struggling to understand why she's gone.

"She was a wonderful person," said Debbie Reese, Jennifer's first cousin. "She cooked the best cakes in the world! Anybody that knew Jennifer knew she loved them and we loved her."

Jennifer's young daughter was also at the vigil, staying strong for her mother. Several police officers who responded to the crime scene a week ago also came by to offer condolences.

Investigators say her ex-husband, Ricky Wells, and his girlfriend, Tina Wells, are responsible for shooting Jennifer and dragging her body across county lines near Happy Valley Road.

Debbie says their family's healing is halted by seeing the marks on the road where her body was dragged.

"We have family members that live right off this road, and friends also, and it's just so hard to drive over it," she said. "I mean it's just that horrible. That's all we've got left of her, but we can't look at it all the time."

They're hoping the county can clean them up or repave the street.

The coroner tells them he believes she was dead before she was dragged all those miles down the road -- a bittersweet detail for her loved ones who have been praying she didn't suffer that night.

The vigil was held at the end of Purvis School Road near the Glascock/Warren County line where Jennifer's body was found.

Debbie says a loophole in Georgia law allows for Jennifer's ex-husband, a suspect in the case, to have legal custody of their son unless he is convicted.

Jennifer's family says this just isn't right.

"See, if we can get a law started to make that if one parent kills another parent ... and they are a suspect, they can not automatically get custody," she said.

Some cried and hugged during the vigil, but they also tried to remember the good times they had with Jennifer by playing her favorite songs.

"One of them was 'Mustang Sally' ... any time we were anywhere and it was playing, she'd say, 'Come on!' She'd get us all up and we'd go dancing," Debbie said.

Those are the memories they want to hold onto while they remember their little light, Jennifer.

Jennifer's family will be accepting friends Friday night for a visitation at Curtis Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m. The funeral will be held there Saturday at 3 p.m.


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