‘She was a beautiful human being:’ Family prepares to say goodbye to murdered Hartsville woman

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - The family of a woman shot and killed one week ago is speaking about her murder for the first time.

Last Wednesday, 28-year-old Keiyatta'i Smith was murdered on the 700 block of South Eighth Street in Hartsville.

Police have arrested and charged Phillip Franklin with Smith's murder.

On Wednesday, the family held a public viewing for Smith. Her mother, Monica Ward, said her daughter was well known and well loved.

"Community's torn because it was a tragic thing that happened," Ward said.

On that fateful night, Ward said she heard from a neighbor there was a shooting down the street and that her daughter had been shot.

"My heart sank. Then to know that she had passed, it's like a piece of me was taken away," Ward said.

Later, she found out Smith's boyfriend got into an altercation with Franklin. Ward believes her daughter was shot when the suspect retaliated. It was an argument that became deadly.

"My family, we're torn. Me, I'm lost, because that was my heart, that was my everything," Ward said.

Smith was her only biological daughter, but Ward says she has raised many other kids in the neighbor.

Favoring her mother, Smith was known to love children. Recently, before she was killed, Ward said they gained custody of one of those kids together.

"She loved kids, she loved to cook, silly, very comical. She was an outgoing person, very outgoing," Ward said.

Through the grief and pain, Ward says even though her daughter is gone, she will never be forgotten.

"I just want her to be remembered as the person she was. She was a beautiful human being," Ward said.

The funeral will be held Thursday at 2 p.m., at Hartford Christ Ministries on Sixth Street.

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