UPPER SANDUSKY, Ohio — The family and friends of a young woman who was killed while she was working at a Dollar Tree store in Upper Sandusky are still trying to make sense of what happened while keeping her memory alive.
Authorities say 22-year-old Keris Riebel died after she was attacked by 27-year-old Bethel Bekele with a machete on Jan. 2.
Brenda Sand created the group “Kind like Keris” on Facebook where over 2,000 members are sharing stories of her smile and spirit with the world.
Sand has also set up fundraisers for a memorial site for Keris at Nevada Park as well as a scholarship at a local high school where Keris was a cheerleader.
"My heart was just breaking for them, so I knew I had to do something to help,” Sand said.
She explains they will be able to break ground on the memorial in March and should only take a few weeks to complete.
"The whole goal is for Keris’ family, friends, really anyone that wants to come here and just sit and think, reflect, share stories, pray,” Sand said.
Keris’ aunt, Ashley Greenick, said her niece’s main mission was to spread the love of God.
“She had such a love for the Lord, it was so admirable, I mean everyone looked up to her,” she said. “Even in high school, she would carry her Bible with her in the hallways every day.”
Greenick says Keris was on a streak of reading her bible for over 1,400 days. The family says it’s their faith that keeps them going in this time, as Keris leaves behind a large family.
“We’re just going to try our best to spread her message, because that’s what Keris would do,” Greenick said.
Greenick explains that Keris would come across all types of personalities in retail including some who weren’t the friendliest, but that didn’t stop her from greeting them with a smile.
“She would just smile and say ‘you don’t know what they’re going through right now. They may just be having a bad day,’” Greenick said. “And that’s really how she felt, and I’m sure she went home and prayed for them to have a better day.”
She says it was Keris’ bright light that drew everyone to her.
“There were so many people that said, 'you know she did this for me, she went above and beyond,'” says Greenick. “It was really hard for me to find a picture of Keris by herself, because everyone was drawn to her, everyone wanted to be with her."
Makennah Allen says she grew up with Keris, cheered with her and was inspired by her strong faith.
“This has definitely made me step back and evaluate my own life, because we are only here for a short time,” Allen said. “Even though Keris’ life was taken too soon, she lived a good one, and she loved others, she loved like Jesus.”
There is another fundraiser that is being held in her honor on Feb. 11. You can sign up here.
Bekele pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all six charges, including two counts of aggravated murder.