NORTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — The community has raised thousands of dollars for a local animal rescue group in memory of a murdered teenager.
Natalie Henderson and her friend Carter Davis, both 17, were shot and killed behind a Publix in Roswell on Aug. 1.
Henderson, a rising senior at Roswell High School, loved animals and was a regular volunteer with Companion Animal Connection in Waleska.
Instead of sending flowers, her family asked that people make donations to the rescue group that Henderson loved so much.
The owner says the response has been phenomenal.
"Unbelievable," Fran Heffern told Channel 2s Tom Jones.
Heffern says Natalie emailed her when she was 13 years old, wanting to help her with her animals.
"Hello, my name is Natalie Henderson. I wanted to let you know who I am ... because tomorrow I will be volunteering at PetSmart. I'm very hard working. I adore dogs and I’m a very good listener," Heffern said, reading from Natalie's email.
She hired Natalie immediately. Natalie took pictures of the pets and helped them find suitable homes. She was a natural. Heffern says she fell in love with her. "We did. All of us did."
Heffern says the news of Natalie's death hit her hard.
"I was in a fog for the entire day," she said.
Roswell police say 20-year-old Jeffrey Hazelwood shot them behind the Publix shopping center on Woodstock Road. It's across the street from the PetSmart where Natalie worked so hard to make sure puppies found the right homes. %
Donations started pouring in after Natalie's family asked that donations to the shelter be made in her memory.
"We are getting $10 and $20 checks from all over the country," Heffern said. "We've been the recipients of donations when someone has passed away before but never to this extent."
About $2,500 has been donated in less than a week.
"For a 17-year-old girl to have that kind of impact, to me spoke volumes," Heffern said.
The money will help spay and neuter puppies. It will also help the shelter rescue more puppies and help pay for their healthcare.
Heffern teared up talking about the teen.
"Cause she was so special, Tom. She was very special. We loved her," she said to Jones, fighting back tears.
You can stop by the PetSmart in Roswell on Crossville Road on Saturday to adopt a dog and make a donation in Natalie's name.
Police have not released a motive in the murders, but say Hazelwood stole from the victims.
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