VALLEY PARK, Mo. (KSDK) - Casey Williamson was just six years old when she was taken from her family and brutally killed. By now, she would be 18. And as her classmates at Valley Park High School move on to the next big stage in their lives they say, they're taking a piece of her with them.
They had a celebration Saturday in her honor. It was a reminder of just how much was loved. But also, a tragic reminder of what could have been.
"I look at all these kids that were in her class and their personalities and especially the ones that she was so close to and I see her in them every time I see them," Casey's mom, Angie Wideman, said.
Angie says sees her outgoing little girl with the huge personality.
"She was the type of child that could light up a whole room when she walked into a room. She had this brilliant smile that was neverending," Angie said.
It's a smile that was stolen from her friends and family by Johnny Johnson in the summer of 2002. Casey Williamson disappeared from her Valley Park home in the morning. Later that day, her body was found at an abandoned glass factory.
"It honestly didn't hit me until I was a little bit older, what actually had happened," Casey's friend Karina Whitney said.
Karina says all she could understand at the time was that her best friend was gone.
"We would sit on her back porch and we would sing Britney Spears or Celine Dion," Karina said.
Those memories are what motivated Karina to lead her classmates in hosting their senior barbeque in Casey's honor.
"What's admirable is they're taking this tragedy and they're turning it into positive things," said Valley Park High School teacher Robert Woerheide.
Another positive thing is that Casey's family hopes to give each of her classmates a scholarship in her name. It's just one more way her class is keeping Casey with them as they move on.
"It is really heartbreaking to know that it's not going to be walking across stage with us. But you can't really let the sadness get to you anymore because she's still there with us, and she's still there in our heart," Karina said.
The Casey Williamson Memorial Scholarship Fund was started by Casey's teachers the year after she was killed. Then, the family helped take over. The scholarship has been going to one student each year. This is the first year it will go to every in the student in the class who's heading to college.