Eleven years ago, Charles and Natalie Davis met in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a notoriously crime-ridden section of Brooklyn, N.Y. They eventually moved to Virginia to get away from all that. Natalie stayed in their Woodbridge town house with their two children while Charles worked in a paint store.

Natalie Davis, 25, had struggled with poor health, battling sickle cell anemia and frequent hospitalizations. For her family, that made it all the more horrifying when she was brutally beaten after a traffic argument, in front of her young son and daughter not far from their Bentley Circle home.

After lying in a coma for two days, Davis died Thursday. Yesterday, Charles Davis still hadn't figured out how to tell his kids that, this time, their mother wasn't coming home from the hospital.

As children Symphony, 4, and DaJour, 2, played nearby, Charles Davis said his wife was "not a violent person. She's a very gentle person. . . . She's very protective of herself, if she felt she was in danger or her family was in danger."

Last night, nearly 50 relatives, friends, neighbors and fellow parishioners from the D.C. Church of Christ gathered at a makeshift memorial with flowers and balloons on the grassy curb of Rollingwood Drive, the site of the beating. Standing on the sidewalk and in the street, they sang hymns in Davis's memory.

Charles Davis lighted the first candle, holding it in his hand and cradling his son with the other. "All of us have been broken by this," said Julian Grante, a family friend and fellow church member, as many wept uncontrollably. "We need to pray to God to give us grace and mercy."

While Davis's family members gathered yesterday, coming from as far away as New York and Chicago, Prince William authorities charged 16-year-old Kurebia Maria Hampton with murder. Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert said he will likely petition to have her tried as an adult. She previously was charged with aggravated malicious wounding.

Ebert said he will seek an indictment on charges of murder and aggravated malicious wounding against the second suspect, Teresa Hattie Dixon, 18.

Hampton, of Woodbridge, and Dixon, of the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, told police that they were both involved in the fight that left Davis dead, according to court documents.

In documents filed in Prince William juvenile court, police Detective Richard Leonard wrote that Hampton "was banging [the victim's] head against the concrete sidewalk" after Davis was knocked to the ground. Hampton "then got up and kicked the victim in the head," Leonard wrote.

"The accused was interviewed and admitted to these events," according to the complaint. In a search warrant affidavit filed in Prince William Circuit Court, police say that Dixon admitted to kicking Davis in the head after she was lying on the ground.

Police said Davis, driving to a church service with family members, exchanged words with a group of teenage girls whose car was blocking much of the street about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. After Davis's group drove around the teenagers' car, the girls climbed into their car, gave chase and pulled in front of Davis's group on Rollingwood Drive, about a half-block away, according to police and witnesses. Davis and Hampton confronted each other outside the cars, they said, and a fistfight ensued.

Grante said Davis's group had been on the way to a church service at Gar-Field High School. He said Davis's aunt eventually arrived at the service and told the congregation what had happened.

"We prayed that she would live," Grante said.

Grante disputed the claims by friends of the suspects that Natalie Davis threw the first punch. "Even if the possibility exists, it does not justify this assault," he said.

Police detectives recovered a blue floral print dress and a torn yellow shirt from a town house in the 13600 block of Bentley Circle early Wednesday. Police spokesman Dennis Mangan said the clothing would be examined for trace evidence, such as Davis's blood.

Dixon graduated in June from Chantilly High School. Hampton grew up with her mother, a younger sister and brother in Woodbridge, said Stephen Shields, a friend of the girl's. She was expelled from Pennington High School for fighting in January, school sources said.

Shields said that a few hours before the Tuesday beating, he spoke to Hampton on her front porch in the 13900 block of Roanoke Drive. "She seemed in good spirits and everything was fine," he said.

Shields said he also spoke with Hampton after her arrest but before Davis died. "She's more worried about the woman, the victim, than herself," Shields said. "I don't think she understands the consequences of what's happening. She was saying, 'I didn't do it,' and I believe her."

Hampton is a "a very, very loving and caring person" who "was just hanging out with her friends and doing the wrong thing," he said.

Kim Chinn, a Prince William police spokeswoman, said Bentley Circle was not known as a high-crime area. But some residents said the neighborhood had become a different, and not necessarily nicer, place to live in recent years. Loitering teenagers and recklessly parked cars dot the circular drive of town houses, and some said drug dealing and gangs appeared to be seeping in.

The day after the beating, some residents said, they were taunted by their neighbors, who were lurking in the streets.

"One man passed by and said: 'That'll teach you to mess with [us],' " said Mike Lawler, who has lived on Bentley Circle with his family for about three years. "Things have been building here, and this was something that was probably going to happen."

Staff writers Sewell Chan and Leef Smith and Metro researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

CAPTION: Natalie Giles Davis's cousin Jeanine Stewart hugs other family members during a candle vigil last night at the site where Davis, 25, was attacked on Rollingwood Drive in the Alexandria area of Prince William County. Family members, friends and fellow parishioners left flowers and balloons at the site. Two teenage girls have been charged in Davis's death.