Sandy Hook school shooting victim's aunt asks Tampa area community for prayers, love

LUTZ, Fla. - While everyone searches for answers, a local woman asks the Tampa Bay area community for prayers.  Christine Carmody, who lives in Lutz, lost her niece, a teacher, in the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook.

Bright, beautiful and a lover of children. That's how Christine Carmody describes a favorite niece.

Friday should have been just another day when Carmody's phone rang.  It was her sister.  "She said there was a shooting at Rachel's school and she's missing.  All I could think of was Rachel was hiding.  After they said everyone was dead, I was thinking Rachel was hiding somewhere," said Carmody.

For hours she held tight to that hope.  Then word came that police had searched every nook and cranny of the school.  That's when she knew the niece she'd been close to for 29 years, the little girl who grew up dancing and playing alongside her own daughter was gone.

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Rachel D'Avino's love of children and an internship put her at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday.  She had so much to look forward to.  The 29-year-old was working on her doctorate and her aunt said Rachel's boyfriend planned to ask her to marry him Christmas Eve.

On Saturday, as Christine prepared for the trip north and grappled with grief, a reminder of what was arrived at her door.  It was Rachel's annual Christmas card.

Christine Carmody flew out Sunday morning to be with her grieving sister and other family members in Connecticut.  I asked her what any of us could do to lessen the pain for those who lost part of their hearts Friday.

"I would ask that they pray.  Rachel is my niece, so I would ask that you pray for my family.  But the kids, they were babies, just pray for them and love your own kids," said Carmody.

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