WILMINGTON, Ohio — Fourteen-year-old Hailey Naegele’s memories of her mother, Heather Camp, live on her phone, in her heart and on a trifold piece of cardboard decorated with photos and plastic flowers.
On the far left, above printed-out mother-daughter selfies and photos with friends, is the date of Camp’s birth: Sept. 30, 1985. The date on the opposite side — Feb. 19, 2019 — is the date of her murder.
“My mom was strong,” Naegele said. “She made it through everything. I didn’t think — I never thought she’d be the one to pass.
“She was fierce and brave. Tiny but tough.”
Police believe Camp, 33, was shot to death by boyfriend James Carver. The discovery of her body sent dogs, helicopters and detectives on a three-day statewide manhunt that ended with Carver’s arrest in Dayton.
Naegele doesn’t like to think about him, she said. “He isn’t worth it.”
She’d rather remember the smile her mother wore on their shopping trips, during their mother-daughter manicure weekends and the day she graduated from eighth grade. She took to rewatching her recordings from some of those occasions in the week after Camp’s death.
“When I’d do my workout, she’d be like, ‘Keep going,’” she said. “I’d be recording the workout, but I could hear her in the background cheering me on.”
She hopes she can continue drawing strength from that encouragement even without the woman who provided it throughout her life. As far as she’s concerned, she has to.
“I see my mom in me,” she said. “I keeps me going to show him that I’m going to make it. Whatever they take away from me, I’m going to make it.”
WCPO does not interview minors without the consent of their parents or guardians. Hailey Naegele’s grandmother gave WCPO permission to speak to her for this story.