Friends, family remember handicapped woman raped, beaten to death

Francis Harris, 53, beaten, killed last week

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Friends and family gathered to honor the life of a mentally handicapped woman who was targeted, beaten and murdered last week.

Francis Harris would have turned 54 years old Wednesday.

A large group gathered outside the home where she was found dead to pay their respects and pray for those responsible.

"When I found out what happened to her I was devastated," the victim's niece said. "It's like a knife went through my heart, because I couldn't believe that someone could do something like that to my aunt."

Relatives said Harris was kind to everyone she met and had a childlike innocence. She was well known around her neighborhood and liked to take long walks around her home.

Police arrested Jeremiah Williams, 16, in connection to her death.

Detectives said Williams told them he and other young people spotted Harris walking toward the backyard of a vacant home off Southwest 102nd Avenue in Perrine.

According to the arrest affidavit obtained by Local 10 News, they followed her. She ran and tripped. The teens then allegedly kicked and dragged her and raped her multiple times before leaving her to die.

"It's a community loss. We (are) all devastated," Harris' sister said. "We lost someone. They don't know what they took from us. They don't know."

Relatives said they're praying for Williams, who's mother turned him in after learning about the crime.

Miami-Dade police are still investigating, and other arrests are possible.

Relatives and neighbors said they believe the brutal crime was part of a gang initiation.

Harris' viewing is set for Friday at Jay's Funeral Home off Homestead Avenue. Her burial will take place Saturday at 11 a.m.

Follow Andrew Perez on Twitter @PerezLocal10

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