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.
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
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