A life snuffed out far too soon will be celebrated on Thursday in Ashland’s Central Park.
Melody York of Ironton will have a memorial for her daughter, Cassandra “Cassie” Owens, 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the park’s bandstand.
Owens, a Morehead State University student, was shot to death in March, allegedly by Casey R. Shay, 26, her former boyfriend and the father of her 2-year-old daughter, Madison. York said her daughter and Shay had broken up about six months prior to the shooting.
Owens’ body was found in her mobile home in East Morehead. She died of a gunshot wound to the head. Shay turned himself in at the Rowan County Detention Center the day after the shooting. A handgun believed to be the murder weapon was recovered from a Morehead pawn shop.
Shay is scheduled to be arraigned today in Rowan Circuit Court on a murder charge.
Even though the reason for Thursday’s event is heart-wrenching, York said she doesn’t want it to be a sad occasion.
“I want it to be a celebration of my daughter’s life,” she said.
The program will feature music and food, and York said a memorial table will be set up where people can share their favorite stories involving Cassie and write notes to Madison.
She said she plans to place all the letters, photos and everything else she receives in a scrapbook so Madison will have some memories of her mother when she gets older.
York said Friday she was hoping to have live music at the event, but had so far not been able to obtain commitments from anyone to play there. She said if she wasn’t able to, she would play recordings of her daughter’s favorite songs and have karaoke.
Cassie, she said, was a big fan of “hippie music,” and her favorite groups included Pink Floyd and the Doors.
A deeply religious woman who runs her own ministry, York, 42, said she had leaned on her faith to see her through the loss of her daughter.
“If it wasn’t for my relationship with Jesus, I wouldn’t have gotten through this,” she said.
Madison was placed with her paternal grandparents in Morehead following the shooting. York said she has retained an attorney and is seeking custody of the youngster.
York’s daughter’s slaying was the latest setback in what has been a difficult life. Born in Louisa, she became a ward of the court at a young age and grew up in foster care and still suffers from disabilities stemming from childhood abuse.
She has battled drugs and alcohol, but said she has been clean for five years and still participates in recovery. And, despite all she has endured, she said she is able to maintain a positive outlook because of her faith.
Owens lived with York in Coal Grove until she was 16 and moved to Morehead to live with her father. She was a cheerleader at Dawson-Bryant High School.
In the event of rain, Thursday’s event will be moved to the Salt and Light Worship Center, 2020 Carter Ave.
York has created a Facebook page for the event and she would like for people to confirm their attendance there if possible.
KENNETH HART can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2654.