Broward County

Loved Ones Gather at Vigil in Fort Lauderdale for Murdered Broward Man

Jaytwan McNeal was reported missing in September

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Dozens of balloons were released into the sky as loved ones stood in the rain Friday to remember a 23-year-old Broward County man who was killed before his family reported him missing.

Jaytwan McNeal had been last seen on Sept. 21 at his home in Oakland Park. He was reported missing four days later.

Police in Palm Beach County arrested sister and brother 22-year-old Sophia Valdez and 24-year-old Luis Valdez on first-degree murder charges.

Investigators say McNeal went to Palm Beach County to meet with Sophia, a childhood friend. Police say later that night, her brother shot and killed him.

"There was no trust, no love, no loyalty. It was just like a betrayal and backstabbing," said Bridgette Simpkins, McNeal's mother.

"We couldn’t believe friends that he had for years did something to him like that," said Shamekia Witherspoon, his cousin.

When loved ones thought he was still missing, they passed out flyers for weeks, making a desperate plea to the public.

"It’s devastating," Simpkins said. "I really don’t know what to do but I’m getting through it."

The family says they don’t want McNeal to be remembered by the way he died but by the way he lived. His mother says she won’t rest until she gets justice and plans to be at every court date.

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