MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — 24-year-old Chelsie Walker went missing around Halloween. About a week later, police found her remains in a remote part of Monroe County. The Madisonville community gathered to honor Walker and help her family.
Tracy Smith, Walker's mother gave a heartfelt speech about her journey looking for her child from the moment she realized she was missing.
"I broke down because yeah, it's my baby, you know," Tracy Smith, Walker's mother said. "Just want her home."
It was Halloween, Smith said, she knew something was wrong when she went to work that day. She was calling and texting her daughter. After going to the police, she started looking for her.
"We drove around and went everywhere we could putting up these flyers," Smith said.
About a week later, Smith said police told her they found her daughter’s body, but she was not letting go.
"I just kept hoping," Smith said. "I was like, you're wrong, you're wrong. My baby's coming home."
The community gathered at Kefauver Park to honor Walker’s life and help with burial expenses and Walker's two children with donations. Smith said this place was their hang-out and where they celebrated Walker’s sweet 16 birthday party.
Walker's best friend had so many favorite memories that it was difficult to choose one. They knew each other for about 12 years and did many things together.
“We sung together," Kaitlyn Carmack said. "Her personality brought up my personality. It was like great for like, ever.”
People gathered around Walker’s pictures for a candlelight ceremony to pray and try to lift spirits up. Carmack said at least they now knew where their loved one was.
“I had a little bit of, you know, clarification," Carmack said. "Like at least they know that she is you know, brought back at least they didn't you know, lose her forever.”
Even local businesses are adding jars for their customers to pitch in. One of them, the Lamp Post restaurant, turned in about $400, Kathy Deakin the owner said.
"Everybody in town has really pulled together to try and help them," Deakin said. "And customers have been great about giving money toward it and stuff."
Smith said she is now focusing on her grandchildren and this is how she wants her daughter to be remembered
"Fun loving, childlike, lighthearted, young woman who tried her best, and did her best to be the best person in this world that she could ever be," Smith said.
During the candlelight gathering, Smith also shares one of Walker's text messages she had saved.
"Mama I've forgiven everybody," Walker's text said. "I have no more anger."