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‘A parent’s true nightmare’: Parents ‘lost’ after child killed in Halifax County double murder

‘I don’t think it’s fair that whoever did this is still breathing while my daughter isn’t’

HALIFAX COUNTY, Va. – On Saturday, Ayanna Maertens Griffin’s parents heard the words no parents ever want to hear.

Their 18-year-old daughter was found dead. Virginia State Police are treating it as a homicide investigation.

“I definitely now understand the words of, ‘A parent’s true nightmare,'" said George Ivan Maertens, Ayanna’s father.

Griffin and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Ntombo Joel Bianda, were found dead near the scene of a car crash along Route 58 in Halifax County just before 3 a.m. on Saturday. Police say neither were killed in the crash. They believe both victims were murdered.

Maertens found out Saturday afternoon.

“We were actually doing some last-minute wedding shopping. I was supposed to get married yesterday," Maertens said. "There were some Virginia State Police agents that came knocking on our door as soon as we came home and they broke the news to us.”

Maertens and Ayanna’s mother, Melissa Griffin, said they were devastated.

“I don’t think it’s fair that whoever did this is still breathing while my daughter isn’t,” said Griffin.

Ayanna lived, studied, and worked in Fairfax, Virginia. Maertens said she wanted to study computer science at Virginia Tech. Her parents said they had just talked with her on Friday.

“I’m completely lost. I don’t understand why she didn’t tell me that she was going on a trip. She tells me everything,” Griffin said. “She was one of my best friends.”

Tuesday, Maertens drove down from his home in Maryland to Halifax County to meet with detectives, but he still has a lot of unanswered questions.

“Did my girl suffer? Did something happen?” Maertens asked. "Why is she all the way down here? She knows nobody down here. There is no reason for her to be down here?”

This is not the first time Maertens has lost a daughter. Ayanna’s twin sister, Staisha, died when they were just babies from Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

The anniversary of Staisha’s death, Oct. 26, 2019, was the last time Maertens saw Ayanna.

“We went to the cemetery to go visit her sister,” Maertens said. “So that was the last time I physically saw her.”

Later Tuesday afternoon, Maertens headed back up to Maryland to see Ayanna’s body one last time before the funeral.

“Ayanna recently got a tattoo of her sister’s name on her arm and I never got to see it and I think today is going to be the first time I see it," Maertens said. “Not the way I want."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Ayanna’s funeral costs.

State police are still investigating their deaths. They believe a second car may have been involved and they’re asking anyone with information to give them a call.


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