MILWAUKEE -- In the darkness it is hard to make out the waters of the Kinnickinnic River. Nearby, candles illuminated balloons on Friday night, Jan 4., marking the spot near where 29-year-old Charles Barefield, a pregnant 19-year-old Shannon Nehmer, and 2-year-old Annamelia Hernandez drowned after their SUV crashed fleeing from police into the chilly waters on New Year's Eve.
Investigators say the vehicle they were in was wanted in connection to two violent armed robberies in the hours prior to the crash. Nearly 100 gathered for the vigil to remember the lives lost on Friday. The group says none of this makes sense.
The vigil was organized by friends of Nehmer and Hernandez. Not at the vigil, were family members of Barefield who spoke to Fox 6 for the first time.
"It's hurtful to hear. I think about him every day," said Barefield's brother, Cortellez Barefield. "My brother was a good person he had a good heart. He treated other people like he was their people... he'd take care of them."
They say media reports of their loved one is not the person they know.
Barefield spent most of the last decade in prison for a 2007 armed robbery of a gas station in Oshkosh, but had been out of trouble since his 2015 release.
"The last few months of 2018, just was downhill -- really downhill," said Barefield's mother, Verlilia Barnes.
Family says this was a destructive relationship for the couple.
"I'm wondering what really drove you that deep to do something so heinous," said Verlilia Barnes.
At the vigil, balloons were launched and tears shed. No one can explain why the couple would commit armed robberies and flee with a child in the car.
The gathering is a sign of the pain left behind; lives shattered in an instant.
Barefield's family says this was a really poisonous relationship but both families agree the couple were loving parents.
It's why they are even more baffled a child was in the car.