KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It should have been a happy story: Two young sisters meet for the first time. But it happened under unthinkable circumstances.
Most of the time, in FOX4’s Crime Files series, the parents of a homicide victim plea for answers. But a lot of the time, those victims are parents themselves.
Five months ago, Tyahna and Aniyah had never met. Their father’s funeral was the sisters’ first encounter.
“I want to say that he was a special dad,” Tyahna said of her dad, Antonio Shanklin.
“Me and him was getting to know each other and, like, ever since that happened, it feels like I can’t be the same no more,” Aniyah said of her father’s death.
Police said someone gunned down the 37-year-old father last fall.
“Their lives have been completely disrupted, and it’s happened so sudden, and it’s so permanent,” said Monica Roberts with Healing Pathway Victims Service Agency.
Just before 6 a.m. one day in September, officers found Shanklin dead outside a home at 38th and Wabash. He left behind two girls, just 10 and 13 years old.
“It’s taken a bit of their innocence away,” Roberts said.
Roberts’ nonprofit directly helps Aniyah and Tyahna — and many other kids in the metro whose parents have been murdered. Those children are subjected to serious adult topics that even many adults have a difficult time relating to.
“Her dad’s gone. She’s never going to be able to see him again,” said Erica Pearson, Aniyah’s mom.
“That person took a piece of me,” Aniyah said.
Now, the two young girls are afraid.
“It’s hurting me, my sister, my family because they haven’t turned themself in,” Aniyah said.
“When it`s a school day, I just feel sad. I don’t want to talk to nobody because I feel sad every day,” Tyahna said.
The only good to come from this grief: the bond between sisters.
“They can be there for each other more than we can,” Pearson said. “They understand what each other are going through.”
“She’s my big sister, and we can take care of each other and have each other’s back even though we’re sad,” Tyahna said.
“At least we got each other to go through it with,” Aniyah said.
They hope sharing their own pain will soften the hearts of the people who can call Crime Stoppers to solve this case.
“It didn’t end at the funeral service for these little girls,” Roberts said. “They are carrying this with them for the rest of their lives. And I, I truly beg the public to give them some bit of closure. They have a lot of sleepless nights and they, they live in fear of the unknown.”
If you have information about Shanklin’s murder that could help police, please call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477. Tips can remain anonymous.