Mourners packed the chapel Sunday at the funeral of Destinee Virgin, an 18-year-old who reportedly was running away from her ex-boyfriend amid midtown Columbus traffic when she was fatally shot.
Virgin, a 2018 Carver High School graduate, was shot to death Sept. 22. Her ex-boyfriend, Markel Ervin, 17, was arrested and charged with murder. He was out on bond after allegedly kidnapping her April 25. One condition of his bond was that he stay away from Virgin.
Some family members dressed in all white. Some friends wore “Long Live Destinee” T-shirts.
One mourner was so overcome with grief, she wailed “No!” after viewing the open casket in the standing-room-only chapel. The overflow crowd spilled into the hallways of Progressive Funeral Home.
According to her obituary, Destinee was born Aug. 23, 2000, at Fort Benning. While attending Carver, she excelled at track and field and was a member of the JROTC program. Since graduating from Carver this year, she was attending a training program at the First Step Health Agency in Columbus to become a medical assistant. She hoped to become a pediatrician and also planned to join the U.S. Air Force.
“She loved people,” Brother Edwin Harris, who led the service, told the mourners. “She loved children.”
Then he posed the prevailing question: “Why are we here today?”
And he offered three reasons by citing Bible passages:
▪ “We know that we originate from God … but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked.” -- 1 John 5:19.
▪ “But know this, that in the last days, critical times hard to deal with will be here.” – 2 Timothy 3.
▪ “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so death took all men because all sinned.” – Romans 5:12.
Harris said, “God made us in a way that we were never to die. But yet, because of our first parents disobeying God, we find ourselves in this situation. But that does not leave us without hope. That doesn’t leave Destinee without hope.”
He referred to the Regina Belle lyric — “If I could, I would protect you” — sung at the funeral by soloist Tracey Chrispin.
“All of you who are parents most likely feel that way, that you would protect your children,” Harris said. “The beautiful thing about it is, that when Adam disobeyed, almighty God Jehovah did not let him stop His purpose. He was not going to be defeated by a physical creature.”
God wants a world, Harris said, “with no more death, no more pain, no more tears.”
The Bible has the solutions to the problems we face, Harris said, to make a good name with God. He urged the mourners to comfort the family and “let them know that very soon there’s going to be permanent relief.”
Harris concluded, “The times in which we live are going to continue to deteriorate, but we will continue to draw strength in our love for God and our love for one another.”
During the repast at the Columbus Firefighters Association headquarters, Destinee’s maternal grandmother, Felisha Virgin, spoke for the family when she told the Ledger-Enquirer, “The family is understandably still grieving right now. We are so touched, though, by the love and support that we received from everyone in the community. There have been so many people that have reached out to us, and we want to thank everyone.”
In the service’s program, Destinee’s mother, Mechelle Virgin, wrote, “This is by far the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I want my daughter to be remembered as she was, and that’s a happy, loving and beautiful young lady.”
Destinee was Mechelle’s only child.
“They were more than just mother and daughter,” Felisha said. “And that’s why it’s so devastating for her to go through this right now. What happened is terrible, but, unfortunately, it’s not unique. We have not been the only ones that have had to suffer at the hand of some type of violence, and we just want the law enforcement and everyone to be able to do their job, do it to the best of their ability, so that we can get justice in Destinee’s case.”
Destinee’s god-sister, Zykeria Ayers, was one of her classmates at Carver.
“I’m just glad my sister’s at rest,” she said. “… She ain’t got to suffer no more.”
Friends said Destinee was a smiling, humble, outgoing person, full of generosity, joy and life. She would listen to others and help them solve their problems, they said.
“She would not have us crying,” Ayers told the gathered friends at the repast. “So no more crying. . . . She wants us to stay up for her mama.”
Testimony during Ervin’s preliminary hearing last week in Columbus Recorder’s Court described the moments immediately before and after Virgin’s death.
She leaped from her eastbound Nissan Maxima at the red light on Macon Road at Rigdon Road and ran west through traffic, calling for help, trying at times to open other car doors to escape Ervin, who chased her with a gun, according to dozens of motorists who saw this, police said.
They watched horrified as Ervin caught up to her and gunned her down, firing multiple shots with a 9 mm pistol before he returned to the Nissan and sped away.
That night, Ervin ditched the car in Harris County and had a run-in with sheriff’s deputies, fleeing into the woods and prompting a search, said Columbus police Cpl. Robert Nicholas. Authorities caught him there in the morning, and recovered Virgin’s silver 2004 Nissan with its paper “tag applied for” license plate, Nicholas said.
Judge Julius Hunter found probable cause to send the murder charge to Superior Court and ordered Ervin held without bond. Defendants are entitled to a bond if a grand jury does not indict them within 90 days.
Staff writer Tim Chitwood contributed to this report.