Family, friends hold vigil for mother found dead at home

ATLANTA — Loved ones gathered in southeast Atlanta Sunday evening and promised to support a young girl who found her mother dead in their own home.

The show of support brought the victim's family members to tears as they prayed and lit candles in honor of Karlea “Renee” Thomas.

With her nickname written on the sidewalk - and balloons released into the air - those who knew and loved Thomas, paid their respects at a vigil Sunday.

“This family needs you. This community needs you,” a speaker told the crowd

“She saw her mom dead, on the floor, beaten and strangled. And (there’s) something else she needs to see - her mom in the proper burial,” Thomas’ mother, Joy Poole, told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson.

Poole said Thomas was an outgoing, artistic 31-year-old who loved her daughter.

“Whatever the case may have been, she prayed with her daughter every morning and every night,” Poole said.

She said the dozens of people at Sunday’s vigil gives her strength but she worries if she will have the strength to do one more thing.

“Being able to bury my daughter,” Poole told Johnson, holding back tears.


Channel 2 Action News was at the scene Friday when police were investigating at Thomas's home off Fulton Road in southwest Atlanta.

Police said she had injuries on her neck and found no signs of forced entry. Investigators say they're interviewing an unidentified person of interest.

Thomas' loved ones said she was in an abusive relationship.

“We're talking about this thing that we never want to talk about and that’s domestic violence,” family friend Jaquisa Smith said.

Now the family is asking for continued prayers and support for Thomas’ daughter.

“We're going to try to get through it the best way we can. I’m just glad we got a lot of support,’ Thomas’ sister Nina Neal told Johnson.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses and to raise money for Thomas' daughter.