KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — This October will mark four years since Cameron Smith, 19, was shot and killed on Emory Road.
“It’s just something that we do, because we miss him so much,” Taylor said. Smith doesn’t have a tombstone.
The memorial in the front of the Broadacres neighborhood, created with donated money, is it for the time being.
“I didn’t want him in a cemetery. That wouldn’t be Cameron. You know, Cameron, like I said, was a free person and he just liked the outdoors. To be confined, that would be awful for him,” Taylor said.
It’s a place where she can still feel him when she visits.
Smith’s memorial was made of a 3-feet-tall cross and a tree. The memorial was put in place two weeks after his life was taken and has been there since.
“We come probably about three times a week. Just to sit, or just look or say, ‘hi, I love you,'” Taylor said.
Every year on Smith’s birthday, Taylor stops by the memorial and places flowers. Saturday would have been Smith’s 23rd birthday. So, Taylor headed to the memorial, only to find something heartbreaking: The cross was gone.
“We thought we had the wrong street, because it’s been there almost four years, and it wasn’t. And I went house to house and nobody saw anything,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she knew it wasn’t the home owners association for the subdivision, because they were the ones who originally brought up the idea of a memorial being located there.
When she talked with the HOA about it missing, Taylor said they told her the cross was there as of Friday afternoon.
Despite the road and neighborhood having a lot of traffic, Taylor said no one saw anything.
So she went to Facebook.
“There was over 300 people that have commented on (the post), and there was 70-something shares, and it’s just wonderful. The people around here are amazing,” Taylor said.
However, the cross still hasn’t reappeared and a family friend’s temporary cross now stands in the missing one’s place.
“I never really realized there was that many people that would even be interested in Cameron. But they are, and it’s wonderful,” Taylor said.
Taylor said Smith should’ve never died in the first place, but it breaks her heart even more that his memorial cross went missing.
“I really don’t know why anybody would do something so vicious. I mean, it wasn’t hurting anybody. There was no complaints about this being here,” Taylor said.
At this point, all she wants is for the cross to be returned.
“If they bring it back, that’s wonderful. You know, no questions asked, just bring it back,” Taylor said.
If the cross isn’t returned, Taylor said she has an idea for a more permanent fixture. She said Smith loved wolves, and she saw a wolf-shaped plaque that could be nailed to the tree once it grows enough to sustain such a memorial.