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Beloved High School Track Star Shot Dead in Park Across From Her Home

Authorities in Texas are investigating the murder of a 15-year-old high school track star found dead in a Baytown park Tuesday morning.

Police said they found the body of Jania Tatum in the grass of Tejas Park — across the street from the apartment where she lived with her mother — just after 8 a.m., with blood on her chest, KTRK reported.

Baytown police said the cause of death has not been determined, but they are actively searching for whoever killed her. In a GoFundMe post, Jania’s mother said her daughter had been shot to death.

Tatum ran track and cross country at Sterling High School, where she was sophomore. Her mother, Angie Tatum, told KTRK her daughter was well loved by her teachers and coaches and that she planned to join the US Navy.

“She was going to the military,” the mother said. “She was going to go to the Navy for nursing. She can’t do that now.”

“Everybody loved her,” she said. “Nobody is doing good right now. I’m not doing good. I don’t know if I’m going to ever be good about this.”

Angie Tatum said she last saw her daughter at about 11 p.m. Monday when she went to bed. She said she thinks Jania must have left the apartment to go meet up with someone and that she left a half-eaten plate of food behind.

The Goose Creek school district told KTRK they planned to have support staff on hand when school resumes after the holidays.

Baytown Police Chief John Stringer asked for help finding  Jania’s killer. “There’s no piece of information that’s too small that might not help us with this case,” he said.

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[Featured image: Jania Tatum/Facebook]