As Teens Looked Through Her Murdered Daughter’s Closet, This Mom Started Choking Up Uncontrollably

It is often said that no parent should ever have to go through the heartbreaking experience of burying a child. However, losing a child is a nightmare that became a bitter reality for Arizona couple Ann and Fred Shaylor.

Baby Cassandra met the Shaylors in Tucson when she was just 15 months old. No sooner were they introduced than the three fell in love with one another, and little Cassandra was adopted by her new parents straight away.

Ann and Fred watched their daughter grow, attend high school, fall in love and get married – everything a parent would want for their child. But their dreams – and Cassandra’s life – were tragically cut short. In the cold winter of 2016 the bright and smiling Cassandra was murdered. She was just 24 years old.

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Sadly Cassandra had become the emotional and physical victim of domestic violence. After following her heart to marry young and move in with her new husband, the then 20-year-old King Yates, in November 2014, suspicions were raised about their relationship. Her parents worried about the young couple’s tumultuous partnership, and claim that Yates had threatened Cassandra’s life with bladed objects, and subjected her to other physical threats during their time together.

This all came to a head in November 2016, when Cassandra was shot and killed by her abusive partner in a neighbor’s home in Tanque Verde Apartments, Tucson. Once arrested the extent of Yates’ terrifying criminal history was revealed. He had eight recorded brushes with the law – two of which were related to domestic violence – and had been arrested on five separate occasions within three years.

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This was all before Yates brutally murdered his young wife, who her parents say was “terrified” of the disturbed young man. After such a callous crime, her devastated parents had to begin the slow and painful process of recovering and regrouping.

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As the Shaylors began to accept the fate of their beloved daughter, they had to bear the harsh reality of bereavement that followed it. With touching obituary notices from their daughter’s friends to help bolster them, including Christian Swan who said Cassandra was a “genuine, loving and caring person who would have gone out of her way to help anybody,” the Shaylors had to face the emotional challenges of losing their child.

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Cassandra’s mom said that clearing out her daughter’s closets was one of the hardest parts of the whole process. Ann told broadcaster News 4, Tucson, “The clothes bother me terribly. I can’t tell you why, but all those clothes. She wasn’t going to need them anymore and that was so final.”

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Instead of packing Cassandra’s clothes away, never to be seen or worn again, her mom wished they could form a fitting tribute to the memory of their sharing, fashion-loving daughter. That is why when husband Fred heard that the school Cassandra attended in the south-east of Tucson – Pueblo High School – was hosting a clothing bank, an idea began to form in Ann’s mind.

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Instead of just saying goodbye, the Shaylor family would make sure that Cassandra lived on through the new students of her former high school. So they donated her whole wardrobe to the Pueblo High School clothing bank, including prom dresses and other fashionable outfits.

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When asked about why she was parting with these memories of her late daughter, Ann Shaylor told local TV’s Tuscon News Now, “I’m trying to bring something good out of something bad. It’s what I’m trying to do because it helps. It really helps. It keeps her memory going.”

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Named Cassie’s Closet, the donations from the Shaylor family created a whole new section for the clothing bank dedicated to the previously worn and loved garments of a past pupil. The fashion items came in a wide range of styles, all of which were graciously received by the entire school – from staff to students.

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The donated clothes arrived at the perfect time – right before prom season in April 2017. Cassandra had always loved to dress up, and the evidence of her passion was in her closet. Co-ordinated outfits and dresses in all shapes, lengths and sizes made up a large portion of the gifted clothes.

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Seeing the young female pupils of Pueblo High School excitedly browsing through Cassandra’s wardrobe and finding their perfect outfit for prom and graduation proved to be an emotional experience for Ann, but one that helped her gain an element of closure on the tragic loss of her young daughter.

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As the heartbroken mom fought back tears, Ann told ABC-affiliated local TV channel KGun9, “It just seemed right, it just seemed – it was just perfect. And I didn’t feel quite as bad. It helped a little bit, knowing the girls that need something nice to wear would have something nice to wear.”

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Ann had said before how difficult parting with Cassandra’s clothes was going to be for her and husband Fred. Reflecting on the success of Cassie’s Closet and how well the donations were received, Ann reasoned to News 4, Tucson, “She had beautiful dresses. Long dresses, short dresses, really cute dresses she had accumulated over the years. And it just seemed like they needed to go to something special.”

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And somewhere special is exactly where they ended up. Most of Cassandra’s clothes were gratefully snapped up ahead of the Pueblo High School Prom by eager students wanting to look their best for their big day. The happiness and appreciation from the young girl pupils helped to heal the hurt that the Shaylors were experiencing after losing their own little girl.

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Students who received items from Cassie’s Closet had kind words of thanks for Ann for making such a precious gift despite the Shaylors’ grief. “She’s very great person and really kind person to even think about other people,” said student Michelle Cuadras.

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Another pupil, Christina Grove, who got herself a stylish prom dress from Cassie’s Closet, said that she would think of Cassandra on prom night. She is thankful to the late Cassandra, through whom she got the dress of her dreams – fulfilling everything Ann wanted from the donation.

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After the success of Cassie’s Closet, Ann and Fred Shaylor hope to make it an annual event, where everyone in the local community is encouraged to donate both young women’s and men’s garments to the clothing bank at Pueblo High School to continue passing on Cassandra’s passion for fashion to others.

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