Murder mystery unfolds in Miami Gardens after teacher's body found

Kameela Russell's family, friends, students want her killer caught

By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer, Louis Aguirre - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Detectives are still searching for evidence to arrest Kameela Russell's killer.

After a teenager found her body in the banks of a canal Saturday, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office determined a blunt force head injury caused the death of the 41-year-old mother of two.

Russell, whose teaching experience extended to schools in both Broward and Miami-Dade counties, had been planning to celebrate her students' graduations this week in South Florida. Miami Norland Senior High School students said they missed the test administrator.

"We ache for Kameela Russell's grieving loved ones and pray they find the strength to bear the pain of this heartbreaking loss," Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Carvalho also said he deployed members of the district's crisis team to the high school in Miami Gardens to help students and staff who have been in anguish since she vanished May 15.

"She always liked you to smile, and she always, like, put positive energy in people's lives," student Zeniah Rolle said. 

Russell was born in the Bahamas. After earning a degree in criminal justice from Florida State University, she worked at the Florida Department of Corrections as a probation officer for about four years and became a teacher shortly after. 

She worked for Broward County Public Schools at Walter C. Young Middle School in Pembroke Pines from 2003 to 2014 before joining Miami-Dade County Public Schools at Miami Norland Senior High School in Miami Gardens. 

"She was a very nice lady. She was so giving," student Mormare Jones said. "She was always nice to her students. She was a great person to be around. I loved Ms. Russell."

Her last post on Facebook was about Georgia's harsh new abortion law holding women criminally responsible for having a miscarriage: "Who determines if my miscarriage is self-induced? Is there a battery of tests much like there were during the Salem Witch trials?"

A day after the Facebook post, Russell's aunt, Donna Blyden, was taking care of Russell's two daughters and was expecting her to pick them up when she said she saw her briefly in the driveway. Russell never walked inside.

Within days, the missing person's case turned into a murder investigation. When a 16-year-old boy found her body Saturday, she was wearing the gray leggings she was last seen wearing at school. 

Russell's family, friends, co-workers and students are waiting for police to make an arrest. 

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call 305-474-6473 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

Here is a timeline of the case:

May 15: Blyden told police officers she last saw Russell driving her 2014 black Audi A6 in the 800 block of Northwest 203rd Street. 

May 20: Miami Gardens police officers closed an area on Northwest 23rd Court from Northwest 204th to 207th streets.

May 21: Sources said detectives searched the home of a former assistant principal at Miami Norland Senior High School.

May 25: Teenager finds her decomposing body in a canal near Northwest 207th Street and Northwest 15th Avenue.

Russell's mother on Facebook:

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