The family of a teenage girl stabbed to death while making her way to a south London school have paid heartbreaking tribute to their “beautiful” 15-year-old.
GCSE student Elianne Andam was on her way to Old Palace of John Whitgift School in Croydon when she was attacked and killed on Wednesday morning.
Her devastated family broke their silence today revealing how their lives have been plunged into darkness following the loss of the beloved schoolgirl, who “dreamed of being a lawyer” after graduating from the top private school funded by her NHS nurse mother.
Elianne’s aunt, Marian, said the schoolgirl’s mother had been paying for her daughter to go to the £20,000 per year private school so she could go on to have a “bright future”.
Have you been affected by this incident? Email email@example.com
But Elianne’s future has been cut short after the horror killing, which occurred on Wednesday when the teenager was reportedly stabbed in the neck after stepping in to “protect her friend”, who it is claimed had rejected flowers from an ex-boyfriend.
A 17-year-old boy who was arrested in New Addington, south London, just over an hour after the stabbing, remains in custody under questioning by the Metropolitan Police.
Police were granted a 12-hour custody extension Thursday morning to question the teenager. A post-mortem examination is due to take place on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to reporters today, the family revealed their agony of having lost “the light of our lives”.
A spokesperson for her family said: “Our hearts are broken by the senseless death of our daughter.
“Elianne was the light of our lives. She was bright and funny, with many friends who all adored her.
“She was only 15, and had her whole life ahead of her, with hopes and dreams for the future.
“All those dreams have now been shattered. Our lives have fallen apart, along with that of our wider family.”
Dozens of bunches of flowers have been left at the scene of the teenager’s death amid widespread shock at the tragedy.
Police officers who were among the first at the scene and battled to try to save Elianne appeared visibly moved as they laid flowers close to where the schoolgirl died.
Among the floral tributes, cards and candles, one message read: “Rest in peace little princess so sad your life is taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul.”
“You just can’t comprehend the heartbreak of the last 24-hours, how Elianne went to school and never came home,” Elianne’s aunt Marian told Mail Online.
“We’re a big family and we are all here for our sister, to support her, we’re a big family this has left us absolutely devastated. My sister is not feeling good, this only happened yesterday. It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s a tragedy.
“She wanted to be a lawyer, she went to private school paid for by my sister and had a great future ahead of her. She was a lovely girl, she loved doing her hair, had beautiful natural hair and she really loved gymnastics,” her aunt told the publication.
It is understood a boy tried to give a bouquet of flowers to his ex-girlfriend on a Number 60 double-decker bus packed with other schoolchildren when the tragedy unfolded.
The fatal attack was launched after they got off the bus when the girl is said to have rejected the bouquet of flowers.
Elianne was said to have intervened to help her friend before a boy reportedly pulled out the serrated zombie knife and plunged it into her neck.
Family and friends carrying flowers gathered at her NHS specialist nurse mother’s house less than half a mile away from where Elianne was fatally wounded.
Neighbour Rochelle Beaumont, 30, said she had been there in the aftermath of the attack and saw Elianne’s body being put on a stretcher.
She told The Independent: “I was just taking my son on a scooter ride around Croydon when I saw all the police and people trying to revive her.
“My friend was with her trying to help and said she just didn’t stand a chance. Her toes weren’t moving, she was unresponsive. He is really traumatised even though it didn’t happen to him.
“I saw them put the tent up and I knew she didn’t make it. She must have walked past me so many times, it’s such a small and terrible world.
“She was going to a good school, had her whole life ahead of her and then that happens. I have six boys myself and I’m scared to let them out of the house.”
Emergency services were called to Wellesley Road, near the Whitgift shopping centre, at around 8.30am on Wednesday after receiving reports that the schoolgirl had been stabbed.
She was initially helped by a bus driver and a passer-by until the arrival of paramedics, but despite efforts to save her, she was pronounced dead 40 minutes later.
Witnesses reported paramedics battling to save her life, while two other schoolgirls, believed to be her friends, attempted to get through the police barriers.
Speaking to The Independent, Katia Brito, 22, said: “I arrived at the scene at 9.02am and the two buses had stopped. The tent was up and emergency services were trying to keep her alive. Kids were running under the underpass.”
Anthony King, chair of My Ends – a project helping combat youth violence in Croydon, was with the girl’s family after the incident and said they were “heartbroken”.
He added: “She had a bright future ahead of her. She was in her GCSE year.”
Mr King described the girl as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and told of how others said she was “jovial, very comedic”.
Earlier on Thursday, pastor Lorraine Jones told Sky News that the weapon reportedly used to slash her neck reminded her of the blade that took the life of her own son.
“You can’t imagine the scale of fear and anxiety in our young girls,” she told Kay Burley. “This will continue until we support the grassroots. I lost my son. I know what [her mother] is going through. I pray she can survive this and she can. I know the father is going through pain too.”
She urged the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for additional funding for local anti-crime groups.
Scotland Yard confirmed the suspect knew the victim adding: “Further enquiries are taking place to establish their exact relationship”.
A number of police vehicles cordoned off the Route 60 bus, which had been heading towards Streatham Station, while forensic officers continue to examine the scene.
Police said officers were confident Elianne was attacked near the bus stop in Wellesley Road rather than on board a bus.
DCI Rebecca Woodsford, who is leading the investigation, said: “My thoughts and the thoughts of my team are with Elianne’s family. This is a deeply upsetting time for them and we will do everything we can to support them.
“Our investigation continues and we are making good progress. We have recovered CCTV from the area and have spoken to a number of witnesses. Forensic scientists have also examined the scene.
“From these enquiries, we are now confident Elianne was attacked outside in Wellesley Road near to the bus stop rather than onboard the bus.
“We know many people were in the area at the time and would have witnessed the attack. This would have been distressing and traumatic and I would encourage anyone who needs support to contact us and we will help to arrange this.”
Anyone who witnessed the attack or has information that can help officers is asked to call police via 101 quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep. To remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.