‘She was so sweet’: Family grieving after college student shot to death on winter break

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CHICAGO — A 19-year-old Michigan State student was reportedly found shot to death inside a Chatham apartment Friday night. Just after 9:45 p.m., police were dispatched to the 8100 block of South Maryland Avenue on the report of gunshots. Police entered the residence and discovered Lyniah Bell, 19, with a gunshot wound to her head inside a bedroom. She was pronounced dead on the scene. Her boyfriend was taken into custody. WGN spoke with her family who said the North Lawndale College Prep Grad received a full-ride scholarship to Michigan State University. The freshman, who was studying business and journalism, had to come home for winter break. “I’m like ‘you don’t need to be here,’” mother Evelyn Hightower said. Family was worried she would get back with a boyfriend Bell met before she left for college.

They did not approve of him.

“I didn’t like him,” Hightower said. “I told her ‘you don’t match, you’re a straight A student… he’s not doing nothing. He’s in the streets, you don’t need that.”

Bell told family she was going to stay at his Chatham apartment until she went back to school in January. “I’m like ‘you need to go to a sorority party or a party at school and find you somebody who’s majoring being a doctor,’” cousin Regina Hightower said. “Or something. ‘Because you do not need him.’” Her family is beyond shocked. “She was so sweet, so, so sweet,” family said. “Whole life ahead of her. And he just took it from her.” Her grandfather identified her body at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office on Saturday. He told WGN it looked like she had been beaten before she died. Bell wanted to become a reporter when she graduated. Charges are pending against her boyfriend.

North Lawndale College Prep will be offering support groups to help students after Bell’s death.

Read their full statement below.

Dear Phoenix Family,

We were devastated to learn that Lyniah Bell, NLCP-Collins c/o 2019, was murdered last night. A Phoenix Pact Scholar, Lyniah was home from Michigan State University on winter break. To know Lyniah was to love her. A Peace Warrior and National Honors Society inductee, her extracurriculars include Theatre club, Hoops High, and CAPS (student instructor program). We just can’t say enough good about the positive impact she had on the school community. She will be missed dearly, and our hearts grieve alongside her mother and family.

Dr. Garland Thomas-McDavid

President & CEO

North Lawndale College Prep

We will be offering support to NLCP students and staff in need:

This Monday, December 30 and Tuesday December 31st, 10:00 am –  2:00 pm

NLCPHS-Collins Campus

1313 Sacramento Drive

Chicago, IL 60623


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