Mother of slain Pasco girl returns to Tri-Cities

Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldApril 3, 2014 

Anna Pelayo's last school portrait from the 1996-97 school year.

The mother of a Pasco girl who was shot to death 16 years ago is returning to the Tri-Cities to help other crime victims.

Christine Pelayo packed up and left Pasco shortly after her eldest daughter, Anna, 13, was shot in the head and left for dead on Taylor Flats Road in 1997, she said.

The case remains unsolved.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has a detective working on the cold case.

Pelayo plans to return to Pasco next week to hold a candlelight vigil and offer support to area crime victims during National Crime Victims Week.

"I felt like whoever killed (Anna) knew who I was but I didn't know who they were," said Pelayo, who lives in Yakima. "We couldn't continue living in the Tri-Cities."

Pelayo became a crime victims advocate in the years after Anna was killed, she said. She volunteers for an organization called Stop The Violence In Our Communities.

The group is made up of relatives of murder victims and works with victims of violent crimes.

Pelayo partnered with Dora Trevino, whose son, Auggie, was shot to death in Quincy in 1999. The women speak at prisons and work with gang prevention programs.

The group planned the candlelight vigil to connect with local crime victims and honor advocates, Pelayo said.

They've invited Kennewick state Rep. Brad Klippert, Prosecutors Andy Miller and Shawn Sant and a representative from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's office to speak at the event.

The vigil will start at 6:30 p.m. April 10 at Volunteer Park in Pasco.

Multiple local agencies have been invited to offer support to crime victims in the area.

"We want crime victims to come out, meet and support each other," Pelayo said. "That's how we heal is by helping each other. We want to connect the (crime victims) with providers and advocates."

Pelayo was thrilled to learn recently that the sheriff's office was investigating Anna's case again, she said.

She met with a detective, who told her he is reviewing the case from the beginning.

Anna had run away to the Yakima Valley a few weeks prior to her murder and had some ties to gangs there, her mother said.

She returned home before Christmas and snuck out of the house again Dec. 28.

She died early the next morning.

Anna was found unconscious on a county road north of Interstate 182.

She had scrapes and road-rash on her face, possibly because she was thrown from a moving car.

Anna's backpack and duffel bag were found off of Road 68 near Interstate 182.

Investigators followed up multiple leads, including speculation that Anna's killing may have been gang related, but were never able to make any arrests, Pelayo said.

Now, Pelayo is hopeful a fresh set of eyes can help develop new leads in the case, she said.

However, the Yakima woman has accepted the fact she may never know who killed her daughter.

"I would love for them to get whoever did it," she said. "It would bring justice for Anna. All you can do is hope and pray. It's been 16 years. She has missed out on a lot."

For more information on Pelayo's group and next week's event, go to or

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556;; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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