At vigil, friends and family of 19-year-old murdered by ex-boyfriend speak out against domestic violence

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Friends and family gathered Friday night to speak out against domestic violence, hours after a KC teen mom was laid to rest.

Nineteen-year-old Liz Richards went to Joseph Gonsalez’s Kansas City home Saturday to drop off her two-year-old son Jay. The couple had separated but shared custody.

Elizabeth Richards

Jay was later found in the home where his mother was shot and killed. Prosecutors have charged his father with her murder.

Friends and family that gathered at Richards' former elementary school Friday lit candles and wrote messages on balloons to both Richards and the little boy before releasing them.

“She was such a beautiful, caring young woman and mother," her cousin Natasha Knies said. "Every memory that I have will be held in my heart as a treasure, growing up with her was a blessing."

Family described an abusive relationship that Richards had just been able to escape before her death.

"Literally the day before this happened, she posted about how proud she was for leaving and paving a better path for her and her son," Richards' cousin Kenna Sharp said. "She was doing so well and so amazing, and the day after she posted that her life was taken. There’s nothing more tragic."

“We need to figure out a way of stopping such abuse, such domestic violence," her aunt Bonnie Fansler said. "We need stiffer, harder gun laws. He had just got this gun days before this even occurred."

Everyone who braved the cold, after spending the afternoon at Richards' burial, was asked to bring diapers or some sort of donation for little Jay, who is now without both of his parents. Richards’ mom is caring for the little boy while his dad awaits trial.

Prosecutors believe the crime was premeditated. They found a receipt for duct tape on Richards' body, purchased just one day before. Surveillance video showed Gonsalez was the one who purchased it.