Eddie DelValle, a pastor and counselor from Orlando, Fla., said he was so moved by the story of Shakeela Planter's slaying that he came to her house Wednesday night to hold a prayer vigil for the 21-year-old mother and her 2-year-old son, Jaiden.
"We just want to bring awareness to this," said DelValle, who works with the nationwide nonprofit organizations Bring Kids Home and With Love Ministries. "We have two human beings who lost their lives to something that is preventable. We want to reach out."
DelValle was accompanied at the North Bay Shore house by his sister and nearly a dozen friends.
Suffolk police suspect Planter and her son were killed early Dec. 18 after her shift ended at Huntington Hospital the previous night.
Jerry A. Lewis, 24, who shared the apartment off and on, faces second-degree murder charges in the deaths of Planter and her toddler son. He awaits an extradition hearing set for Jan. 27 in Maryland, where authorities say he fled to after the killings.
Wednesday night, DelValle arrived at the house where Planter rented a basement apartment and introduced himself to landlords Rosmeri and Frenly De Los Santos.
The De Los Santoses spoke briefly with him before leaving for the night. They allowed him to post pictures of Planter and Jaiden on a tree on their property. DelValle placed teddy bears and candles by the tree, as well.
Soon after, a dozen of Shakeela Planter's friends and former co-workers showed up to pray for her.
Former co-worker Nadeen Rivera, 28, said she knew Planter for six months.
"She was a very good worker, friendly, everybody loved her at work," she said.