TAMPA, Florida. – When the body of an unidentified teenage girl was found in early May, all the Tampa Police Department had to do was get a distinctive tattoo.
Nilexia Alexander, 14, was found shot dead on Floribraska Avenue in Tampa Heights before sunrise on May 6. Ronny Walker, 44, has been charged with first degree murder in Nilexia’s death and Robert Quincy Creed, Jr. has been charged with accessory after the fact to first degree murder.
What remains a mystery is how the teenager ended up in a car with a 44-year-old man at 3am. Police said Nilexia had run away from home several times.
A video and photos posted on her social media revealed that Nilexia loves dogs, has perfected the art of makeup and enjoys hip-hop music.
But once the camera was turned off, who was she and why did she often run away?
Nilexia was 4 years old when Ashley Alexander decided to adopt her. Ashley had been Nilexia’s foster family for two years.
“Before that, she had five adoptive mothers in six months,” Ashley said.
Although Nilexia doesn’t recall being in and out of foster homes, her mother said she still lives with the trauma.
“I remember one time when she did something, and she was like, ‘Please don’t fire me, please don’t fire me,'” Ashley said. .
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Ashley said she wouldn’t have dreamed of firing her, especially knowing Nilexia’s fears. But Nilexia had questions about her birth parents, many of which went unanswered.
“She was always throwing in my face, ‘You’re not my mom,'” Ashley said. “She wanted me to look for her mother.”
Ashley was finally able to find her daughter’s biological mother on social media. Nilexia was 12 at the time, Ashley said.
“I found mom on Facebook,” Ashley said. “I [told her] ‘I found your [birth] mom.’ She was happy for the moment. At that time, he was the best person in the world for her.”
It was Christmas time 2019 and Nilexia was about to receive a gift that many adoptees never get: meeting her birth mother.
“That was his biggest (question),” Ashley said. “Why didn’t they keep me? I had no answer. Lexi was excited. She couldn’t wait.
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They agreed to meet at a restaurant – but in the end, Nilexia’s biological mother and father didn’t show up.
“I knew she was going to cry. I would have to deal with coming home. The anger. She was going to be mad at me,” Ashley said. “She had no one else to take her anger out on.”
This was the turning point.
Behavior problems worsen
After being raised by her own biological mother, things got even worse for Nilexia. She started running away, having tantrums and showing anger towards her adoptive mother.
“It was to the point that she was screaming, ‘I hate you. I hate being in your house. You are not my mother. I’ll kill everyone here,'” Ashley recalls saying Nilexia.
Ashley says Nilexia’s bipolar disorder exacerbated her obsession with finding out why her birth parents never tried to reconnect.
The teenager was in and out of DCF programs and enrolled in a special school, but little curbed her misbehavior or obsession. Several other attempts to meet her biological parents ended just as painfully.
“She would sleep in a park at night,” Ashley said. “A dark park. In a tough neighborhood.”
Ashley said police have brought her daughter home more times than she can count.
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“She just said she didn’t want to be at my house. She wanted to be with her mom and dad. She just wanted to be with her parents.”
Nilexia also started receiving messages from men, some of them much older.
It is not known if Ronny Walker, 44, was one of them. Police have not said why she got into his car on the morning of May 6, or why he allegedly turned on her.
It’s possible she sent a message to Robert Creed, who was also arrested and tied to the car they were in.
Ashley hadn’t heard of it until the police made the arrests.
“It won’t bring my baby girl back. But it will give me some peace it’s off the streets and a bit of closure.”
On April 26, three days before fleeing for the last time, Nilexia had a tantrum, almost prophetic.
“She started shaking. And then she said, Mom, I hate living,” Alexander said. “She said, I’m just tired of being here. I just want to know who I am, who my parents are. She said, ‘I’m just ready to die. I don’t want to get killed. I don’t want to I don’t want to be shot down and killed.'”
Murderous scene on Floribraska Avenue
Tampa police said just before 4 a.m. on May 6, they found a young woman dead on Floribraska Avenue. Neighbors told police they heard eight shots.
“They said six feet from the roadway they found his body lying on his side,” Ashley said.
Later that day, Tampa police released an image of a tattoo on the girl’s arm. That’s how Ashley knew it was her daughter. She said she realized the tattoo was her daughter’s as she was browsing news websites.
“I went numb. I started screaming and crying. I called my mom and said, ‘My baby is dead,'” Ashley recalled.
“I never stopped loving him”
The room Nilexia had shared with her sister, Kaya, is now only half full. While we were visiting it with Ashley, three months after her death, Ashley found something that answered a question she had been wondering about since her daughter’s death.
It was a drawing: “She wrote: ‘Dear Mom, you have always been there for me.'”
Ashley finally knows what Nilexia could never say out loud.
“I never gave up. Even when she stopped loving herself. I never stopped loving her,” the grieving mother said.
Nilexia’s urn now sits in her mother’s living room, where Ashley will never have to wonder where her daughter is again.