Headstone installed for murdered Roanoke toddler

Published: Apr. 22, 2016 at 12:38 AM EDT
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Two weeks ago, WDBJ7 showed you how a grandmother in Roanoke longed to afford a headstone for her murdered granddaughter.

Last July, Aryah Lipford was shot and killed a week before her second birthday. Thursday morning, after a viewer watched our story, a headstone was installed.

Keysha Lipford came again to Fair View Cemetery in Roanoke, as she has many times before to visit with her granddaughter. This time though, it was to see a gift to her family and to Aryah.

"[I've] been waiting," she said. "[I] finally got it and it is very, very beautiful."

A granite headstone marks Aryah's name and that she lived.

"She finally got her headstone," she said.

But it also serves as a symbol of the generosity of this part of Virginia. Laura Harmon watched when Lipford explained the struggle of affording a headstone while still trying to take care of her own children in a story with WDBJ7 Anchor Chris Hurst.

"We originally saw your story [from] a couple weeks ago," Harmon said.

Harmon and her husband own Set-In-Stone Monuments in Wytheville and offered to make one for free.

"We just wanted to contribute to the memorial for this little girl," she said.

"This has been a long time waiting," Lipford said. "A very long time."

And it took a little while longer. Concrete had to be beveled. Final touches put in place. All the while knowing no one should have to bury a child short of her second birthday.

"She's not supposed to be here," she said. "So I have to make it special because I know she's not supposed to be here."

The stone is now at rest but Lipford must keep going.

"This road is over with and on to the next steps for Aryah," she said. "Pages after pages."

But this chapter is finished.