MILWAUKEE -- Friends of 15-year-old Stephanie Romero gathered outside of the vacant home where Romero was murdered (2512 W. Rogers St.) Wednesday night, April 25th to remember the girl.
The vigil was organized by one of Romero's best friends, Alanis Skenadore. "We love her, and we're gonna miss her, and she's in a better place now," Skenadore said.
Friends showed love for a girl who sometimes felt unloved. The Bradley Tech High School sophomore slept at a group home or at friend's houses and sometimes, on the streets. "She had a family, but she used to always tell me she never felt understood, so she did what she did, when she wanted, however she wanted, and it lands you in places where you don't want to be, but what can you do?" Skenadore said.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner says Romero died from strangulation. But she also suffered numerous cuts, abrasions and other blunt force injuries.
A Milwaukee man is now charged in the case. 17-year-old Eduardo Ivanez faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide in the case and hiding a corpse. If convicted he faces up to life in prison.
The criminal complaint in the case says Ivanez and Romero went to the vacant home on April 13th to have sex and later, Ivanez strangled Romero and stabbed her in the neck and head.
The complaint says a few days later, Ivanez went back to the home with a friend to move Romero's body into an upstairs crawl space. Ivanez lived just two houses away.
Joanne Ritchie lives right in between the house where Romero's body was found and Ivanez' home. "He sat here and chilled with us and talked with us in depth. He seemed like a good kid, he really did. He was living with his sister and he was watching his sister's kids, and I just thought he was a nice kid. To see his picture and that he did this, no, that's scary," Ritchie said.
Romero's friends say they don't know Ivanez but they hope he's prosecuted. "It's hard, but we gotta do what we gotta do. Stay strong and smile for her," Skenadore said.