100 mourn girl, 10, slain as she aided blind sis­ter

Chicago Sun-Times - - Metro ‘she Will Be Missed’ - BY ERICA L. GREEN

It was the cel­e­bra­tion of a “lit­tle woman” who woke up on Satur­day morn­ings and took or­ders for home­made omelets, walked around in her mother’s heels with her hands on her hips and treated her blind sis­ter, Va­lerie, as if she were her own daugh­ter.

“ She helped me so much,” Ne­quiel Fowler’s mother, Linda Wil­liams, said as she looked down at her 10-year- old daugh­ter’s white cas­ket. “She was my twin. She will be missed.”

About 100 mourn­ers gath­ered at Smith and Thomas Fu­neral Home on the West Side on Fri­day for the fu­neral ser­vice for Ne­quiel, whom fam­ily mem­bers re­peat­edly de­scribed as a “lit­tle woman” in the days fol­low­ing her death.

Ne­quiel, known as “Nee-Nee,” was killed in a gang-re­lated shoot­ing as she guided 5-year- old Va­lerie around their South Chicago neigh­bor­hood. Four men from the neigh­bor­hood with al­leged gang ties were charged in the shoot­ing Thurs­day. When their mug shots were pub­lished Fri­day, Ne­quiel’s 8-year- old brother, Xavier, rec­og­nized them as “mean men” from the neigh­bor­hood, Linda Wil­liams said.

The cap­ture of the al­leged shoot­ers brought lit­tle com­fort to mourn­ers as they filed past the young girl’s cas­ket. Some yelled out of sheer grief, oth­ers be­cause they barely rec­og­nized Nee-Nee as she lay in a white, princessli­ke dress and ear­rings, with white beads and bar­rettes her mother had put in for her back-to-school hairdo.

Nee-Nee was known for say­ing to vis­it­ing friends and fam­ily: “Let me get a dol­lar.” So, as they passed her body Fri­day, some mourn­ers put dol­lars into her hands.

And as her blind sis­ter ran her hands along her cof­fin, then to the sur­round­ing flower ar­range­ments and fi­nally up to Nee-Nee’s body, fam­ily mem­bers cried out.

“I’m still try­ing to grasp it in my mind, and it didn’t feel real un­til I saw her lay­ing there,” said her cousin Nas­tas­sia Ha­ley. “She don’t even look like her­self, though — which makes it even harder to be­lieve. But I’m glad they caught them.”

When a rel­a­tive thanked the po­lice, mourn­ers ap­plauded. Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials at­tended the fu­neral, as did the prin­ci­pal of Arnold Mire­les Academy, where Ne­quiel would have started fourth grade this week.

“This is the first child I have ever lost,” said Prin­ci­pal Ros­aly­dia Diaz. “We opened our build­ing to 1,200 stu­dents on Tues­day, but we opened that build­ing — miss­ing.”

A fam­ily mem­ber read a hand­writ­ten let­ter from Ne­quiel’s fa­ther, who is in­car­cer­ated, to honor those miss­ing from her fu­neral.

“ I used to say, ‘ Nee- Nee, how much do you love me?’ ” the let­ter read. “She spread her lit­tle arms apart so far. Her arms will still be around her daddy.”

JOHN J. KIM~SUN- TIMES ABOVE)

Linda Wil­liams is held by her brother John Wil­liams on Fri­day as they view the body of her slain daugh­ter Ne­quiel Fowler (right). Four men with al­leged gang ties have been charged in the girl’s mur­der.

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