VILLAGE OF ARMADA, Mich. -

While the search for her daughter’s killer continues, Jennifer Millsap is speaking out in her first interview to Local 4.

Millsap says she wants people to remember how her 14-year-old daughter, April, lived, rather than how she brutally died.

“She was caring, very caring and loving,” Millsap said.

April was smart, beautiful and surrounded by a supportive family. She loved animals and had dreams of one day modeling. She was also excited to start her freshman year of high school.

“Typical teenager, she loved to shop. She was very into fashion. She would just do anything for anybody,” Millsap said.

But the teen’s life was suddenly cut short in a way her mother still can’t believe.

“It doesn’t feel real, no. It feels like a nightmare, a very bad dream that we haven’t woken up from yet,” Millsap said.

The mother’s nightmare began July 24.

“She said, ‘I’m taking Penny for walk.’ Then she went into the house, got a bowl of water, got a bottle of water for her,” Millsap said.

April left to walk her dog along Macomb Orchard Trail, just like she had done several times before.

But this time, she didn’t come back.

“Around 8 o’clock when she wasn’t there yet, I started getting worried. That’s when they started driving around looking for her,” Millsap said.

The family started searching for April but was quickly given heartbreaking news from police. April’s body was found along the trail. She has been beaten and strangled. The family dog, Penny, had stayed with her body.

“I didn’t even know what to think. I mean, why me? Why me? What did she do?” Millsap said.

The grieving mother said she can’t think of anyone who would have wanted to hurt April. “Everybody in this town loved her. Everyone who knew her, loved her,” she said.

Millsap doesn’t think her daughter knew her killer.

“My gut? No. I don’t think she knew who did this. I don’t think they knew her. I just think she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.

April Millsap's boyfriend talks about text received before she died

MORE FROM CHUCK COMING UP IN A FEW MINUTES. FIRST, THE "DEFENDERS" EXCLUSIVE: THE BOYFRIEND WHO RECEIVED THE MYSTERIOUS TEXT MESSAGE FROM APRIL MILLSAP BEFORE HER MURDER, HE IS TALKING ABOUT IT. Ruth: AND WE'RE MEETING PENNY, THE FAMILY DOG TO SENTENCED TROUBLE ON THAT TRAIL THE NIGHT APRIL WAS MURDERED. AND THE TEXT MESSAGE COULD PROVE TO AND KEY PIECE OF EVIDENCE IN THIS CASE. Hank: IT CERTAINLY. COULD INVESTIGATORS HAVE THAT CELL PHONE. AND THE FAMILY DOG COULD OFFER UP CLUES AS TO WHO IS RESPONSIBLE. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS, ANY IDEA AT ALL? RANDOM. RANDOM. JUST SOME SICK PERSON OUT TO KILL. Hank: AUSTIN WILL NEVER FORGET JULY 24th, THE NIGHT HIS GIRLFRIEND APRIL WAS KILLED, THE NIGHT HE RECEIVED A MYSTERIOUS TEXT MESSAGE FROM HER CELL PHONE. IT SAID, I THINK I ALMOST GOT KIDNAPPED, OMG. HE CONTACTED HER MOTHER WHO WAS BEGINNING TO WONDER WHY SHE NEVER RETURNED HOME FROM WALKING PENNY. HOURS LATER, BOTH LEARNED APRIL HAD BEEN KILLED. IT'S LIKE A NIGHTMARE. C'MON, PINCH ME, WAKE ME UP. BUT NOT GONNA HAPPEN. THIS IS REAL. Hank: AUSTIN'S CELL PHONE IS STILL BEING ANALYZED BY POLICE, BUT HE AND APRIL'S MOTHER ARE NOT SUSPECTS. APRIL'S DOG PENNY PROVING TO BE KEY TO THE INVESTIGATION. AFTER ALL, SHE ALERTED JOGGERS ON THE TRAIL THAT NIGHT AND DETECTIVES BELIEVE PENNY MAY HAVE KNOWN THE KILLER. I WAS AMAZED THAT PENNY DID THAT. I MEAN PENNY -- [INDISCERNIBLE] -- BUT I WAS AMAZED THAT PENNY STAYED. Hank: OUR SPECIAL COVERAGE WILL CONTINUE TONIGHT AT 11:00. JENNIFER MILLSAP WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THE RAID IN ST. CLAIR COUNTY, INVESTIGATORS REMOVING TWO GUYS AND MARIJUANA PLANTS. IS THERE A CONNECTION TO APRIL? AS FOR AUSTIN, INVESTIGATORS STILL HAVE HIS CELL PHONE. TONIGHT AT 11:00, HE'S GOING TO REVEAL WHY HE BELIEVES IT WAS APRIL AND NOT THE KILLER WHO

Police have said they’ve ruled out immediate family members and April’s boyfriend.

Millsap remains hopeful that someone knows what happened and comes forward or has information that will lead police to the person responsible.  

“It’s hard not knowing why,” she said.

Millsap said the outpouring of support, even from strangers, is helping her heal.

“I don’t think thank you is big enough to thank this community for the kindness and the warmth they’ve shown. It just melts my heart how they just come together and help out,” she said. 

[Timeline]April Milsap homicide investigation

[Donate]Online fund for Millsap's family