Community mourns 15-year-old victim


Sean Reed

Three attendees stand around a memorial, which features a poster on the tree with a photo of Gracie Sasso-Cleveland and the words “We miss you Gracie.” (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Bridgette Fox, Written Managing Editor

DeKALB – Following the murder of Gracie Sasso-Cleveland, a 15-year-old DeKalb resident, community members and friends gathered on the 500 block of College Avenue to hold a vigil and share memories of her.

The vigil took place during a light drizzle of rain around 3 p.m. Monday. At 4:30 p.m., many high school-aged students and their family members were hugging, talking and mourning at a memorial of Sasso-Cleveland propped against a tree behind 536 College Ave.

Many attendees described her as a “mom friend” who was always watching out for her friends.

Undreanna Akers, a highschool freshman, was Sasso-Cleveland’s friend and said she last spoke to her on May 1.

“Whenever she was in trouble, she would always think of the person she was with first, she’d always make sure they have a ride home,” Akers said. 

Akers said she was worried when she found out Sasso-Cleveland hadn’t returned home on May 4.

“She always made sure to text her mom back and let us know where she’s at,” Akers said. “When I noticed her phone’s been off for two days, that’s when I started worrying.”

Bobbie Akers, grandmother to Undreanna Akers, described Sasso-Cleveland as a happy girl.

“Very happy-go-lucky … She was always trying to make everybody else happy,” Bobbie Akers said. “She was a little lonely girl.”

The DeKalb Police Department’s investigation of Sasso-Cleveland’s death is ongoing. Updates will be shared as the investigation continues.