Hancock High student’s tragic death at prom afterparty leaves friends, family mourning
HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Friends of Haeleigh Stamper describe her as someone who was full of positive energy and had the biggest smile on her face whenever you saw her.
Now, they’re trying to find a way to live in a world without their best friend.
“It took me the longest time to realize it was real,” said Victoria Jones. “Her mom kept telling me, ‘I’m sorry this happened,’ and I said, ‘You’ve got the wrong number. I’m sorry, this isn’t Haeleigh.’”
Jones and Gabrielle Bailey are still emotional after receiving the phone call letting the know their best friend Haeleigh died at Saturday’s prom afterparty. They both describe her as a unique and fun person to hand around when they first met.
“She was this spunky thing,” said Jones. “We were playing truth or dare and she licked the bus seat. She did not back down from a single dare that day and had the whole back of the bus laughing, and that’s how she was her entire life.”
“I was new and was sitting by myself,” said Bailey. “She had walked up to me and asked if I wanted to play with her and invited me to go over and play with her friends on the swing set.”
They even remembered her love for pickles.
“Haeleigh was right next to me talking to me the whole time, cheering me up doing the random-est thing and bringing me pickles,” Jones added. “She loved pickles — anytime someone was sad, she would bring pickles.”
“We used to make pickle slushies and would blend up the pickles in the ice and put a big pickle in it and sometimes Sunny D,” said Bailey.
Bailey and Jones say Haeleigh always made sure to put a smile on their faces, whether it was at a sleepover or even in class.
“Every time she would come over to my house, I could hear footsteps coming up my back steps, and I hear, ‘Hello darling, where are you?’ and would run all around the house looking for me, and when she sees me, she would go ‘My love!’ Then she would jump and give me a big hug,” said Jones.
“We talked about her being a spider,” Bailey said through a smile. “We talked about her crawling around the ceiling. When we brought it up this year we couldn’t stop laughing because it was funny.”
Now, the teens are trying to keep positive while making sure no one forgets their best friend.
“It’s definitely been hard,” said Jones. “Me and my 14 other friends all spent the night at one of our houses and just cried the whole night. It just doesn’t feel real. One moment it does, and we just cry. The next, we’re like, ‘Nah, she’s going to text us and tell us she got us good.’ It’s been a whirlpool of emotions for sure.”
“I want people to remember her and not forget,” said Bailey.
Bay St. Louis Police Chief Toby Schwartz issued an update on the case Monday night, saying, “With this many victims and this many people involved, the investigation is not going to be fast, but we are working methodically and diligently.”
He also says his department is interviewing everyone at the party who is willing to come forward.
Want more WLOX news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Copyright 2023 WLOX. All rights reserved.