JoAnn Lee carries a folder with pictures of her daughter. Candance Reed with a red shirt and pigtails posing with her second-grade class in Lorain, Ohio. Candance at her senior prom at Anacostia High School. Candance visiting Las Vegas. Candance posing with her dog Sampson.
And there’s the final picture, taken Friday. Candance Reed, dead at age 40, lying on a gurney in the D.C. morgue, a blue blanket pulled back to expose her face, her eyes closed, bruises visible on her cheek, chin and lips. Hidden from view are the stab wounds to her chest.
The 66-year-old Lee flew in from Ohio to claim the body of her daughter, killed early Friday outside the Macombo Lounge strip club in 16th Street Heights. Lee often took the morbid picture out during an interview with a small group of relatives. “I want to see my baby,” she explained.
“I can’t believe she died this way,” Lee said. “She was a good girl. No one deserves what happened to her. God gives life. God takes it away. Not us.” Of the D.C. police, Lee said: “I just hope they do their job well. I want to see justice.”
The family is planning a service this weekend at Greater Morning Star Apostolic Church in Largo. They want to bury her in Ohio, but Lee said they don’t have enough money to move her daughter’s body. They’ve set up a fund for donations through Bank of America.
Authorities said Lee was stabbed outside the club in the 5300 block of Georgia Avenue NW after a dispute.
It is not clear whether she was involved. She had gone there with a friend for a private birthday party.
Reed’s death was the first of two killings outside nightclubs in the past week. Early Monday, a Silver Spring man was fatally stabbed near Midtown Partyplex in Dupont Circle.
On Wednesday, Reed’s mother, sister and brother gathered to share stories of their loved one. They were angry with a man who told the news media last week that he was her boyfriend; they said she did not have a boyfriend. Meanwhile, others had gone on television claiming to be related.
Reed’s family said she was too trusting, willing to take in strangers to her apartment and quickly forgiving disloyalties. She had a small circle of friends, Lee said, but could easily be taken advantage of. She grew up in Lorain, 30 miles from Cleveland, but moved to the District as a teenager. She played the violin and graduated in 1992 from Anacostia High School, where she ran track. After that, she held various jobs, including as an airline ticket agent and bartender.
Most recently, she was taking classes in information technology.
Reed lived in Northwest Washington but traveled back to Ohio, most recently spending a month with her mother and other relatives. Hours before she died, she called her mom, who said she sounded as if she was crying. Reed told her she wasn’t, and her mother promised to call her back later.
Lee said she tried early Friday. “I didn’t get an answer,” the mother said. “I couldn’t get an answer because she couldn’t answer me.” A few hours later, her phone rang and she learned her youngest daughter was dead.