TAMPA, Fla. — The aunt of Benjamin Mitchell says she first met the accused killer in the Seminole Heights murders nearly 10 years ago.
Police say the accused killer, Howell Donaldson III, shot Mitchell 4 times in October. He was the first of four victims.
"I said I know this kid and just kept saying it over and over again, I know this kid!" said Angelique Dupree, Mitchell's aunt.
Dupree says she attended the hair academy owned by the suspect's parents. She graduated in 2009. She remembers Donaldson as a teen.
"A normal teenager, I mean I think at the time he was maybe 15 years old, just a normal kid being in there and joking with some of the students," said Dupree.
Dupree says Mitchell was always smiling and laughing. He had a passion for music. She will never understand how someone could take an innocent life.
"There is always going to be that empty space that's there. You're never gonna heal because you're never going to get an answer why," said Dupree. "There is no reason why."
She says the night he died, Mitchell was on his way to pick up his girlfriend from work so she didn't walk alone.