DECATUR, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — On March 14, 2019, Ta’Naja Barnes would have turned 3-years-old. In her memory, neighbors decorated the home she was found in with balloons and decorations. Many say her life was taken too soon.
“Ta’Naja, oh God, she was so sweet,” said Dartavius Barnes, Ta’Naja’s father. “Everybody loved my daughter.”
This is the first birthday Ta’Naja’s family and friends will spend without her.
One of her neighbors used the day as an opportunity to show how loved Ta’Naja was by the community.
“I know that her family was planning something big for her,” Neighbor Renee Hutchinson said. “Just like everybody does for their children and I think she deserves a birthday.”
Police found Ta’Naja unresponsive and wrapped in a urine-soaked blanket inside her home on February 11, 2019.
She died at a local hospital in Decatur.
The autopsy revealed she died from dehydration, malnourishment, neglect and the cold after living a short life.
“Two years and that hurts because when she last looked at me, when I last saw my daughter, she tried to get to me like she was scared - like she knew,” Barnes said.
Ta’Naja’s family and many in the community wish the circumstances were different.
“Yeah I wish she was still here, able to celebrate her birthday with her family and her siblings,” Hutchinson said.
Barnes remembered Ta’Naja’s birthday in a heartfelt post where he wrote, “I wasn’t ready for you to go.”
Barnes also shared pictures of Ta’Naja when she was younger.
“I’m never gonna get to see that pretty face again and I miss her,” Barnes said.
According to the program that was passed out at Ta’Naja’s memorial, she loved to play dress up and play with toys.