LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Dozens gathered for a vigil Thursday night to honor Jennifer Ratay. The woman was murdered and her body was found inside a barrel in the southwest valley this week.
Those closest to Ratay said they held the event across the street from the home where she was discovered, so they could come together where she was last alive. The pain Ratay’s daughter felt pierced through the glow of every candle lit Thursday.
“My mom didn’t deserve this,” her daughter Kelsi Jackson said. “To be honest I’m not going to be okay. I won’t be for a while.”
Jackson joined her grandmother and Jennifer Ratay’s closest friends to say goodbye to the woman she loved most.
“My mom was such an amazing person,” Jackson added with her grandmother’s support. “She was our everything.”
38-year-old Chuck Chaiyakul is in police custody, facing charges for Ratay’s murder. Police said Chaiyakul confessed to shooting and killing her. He reportedly also told officers where to find her body.
8 News Now spoke with Carlos Gonzalez, a family friend who originally reported her missing. He said Ratay knew Chaiyakul, but he’s not sure of the exact nature of their relationship.
“I think the guy who did this was sick,” Jackson said of the person accused of her mother’s murder. “I don’t understand how any human can go and hurt another human for their pleasure.”
Now, as so many people try to move forward from this awful tragedy, those closest to her hope every hug, tear and smile will help her soul live on.
“It’s going to be hard without her,” Jackson said. “But she will always be in our hearts.”
They said they will also use their thoughts of Ratay’s love and devotion to shine through even the darkest of days.
“I’ve got her here all the time now,” Mary Ann Ratay said of her daughter’s spirit.
Friends and family also passed a special, wooden board around the group of people present to honor Jennifer’s memory. Everyone signed it and shared a message for her.
Court records show Chaiyakul has a criminal history dating back to 2005 in Clark County. He is set to face a judge for the second time Friday.
Ratay’s friends have set up a GoFundMe account for her daughter Kelsi. You can find that here.