Body found in lake identified as 14-year-old from Linden

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LINDEN, NJ — The Linden community was heartbroken to learn recently that the body found in the lake at Warinanco Park on Aug. 10 belonged to McManus Middle School graduate Jayanna Francois, 14.

Francois’ death is being investigated by Union County Police Detectives and the Union County Medical Examiner’s Office, though, according to officials, it is not being investigated as a suspicious death.

“The sudden, unexpected death of a child has to be the most painful tragedy a parent will ever experience,” Mayor Derek Armstead said on Aug. 21 about Francois’ death. “I reassured the family that the Linden community will stand with them and comfort them.”
Following Francois’ funeral, Armstead held a repast at his home.

“Being the father of three children who attended the same middle school as this young lady makes it even more difficult,” Armstead said on Aug. 20. “She recently graduated, and, like many of your children, including my twin boys, Ryan and Ashton, Jayanna was looking forward to beginning the new school year as a freshman at Linden High School. The family is currently struggling personally and financially. You may send cards of condolences or donations to her parents, Bayard and Rachel Francois.”

Condolences to the Francois family can be sent to 1101 Essex Ave, First Floor, Linden, NJ 07036.

Jayanna Francois graduated this past spring from McManus Middle School.

“A bright student who loved reading, Jayanna brought a smile to all of our faces,” the middle school wrote in an Aug. 21 message about Francois.

In Francois’ memory, several individuals who knew her left messages of grief and love in funeral registers.

“Jayanna was such such a shy and kind person,” friend Sarah Asim wrote. “I would remember talking to her about the different kinds of things that would happen at school. Me and a couple friends would play games in the gym with her and we would just like to talk about the most random things. It’s so sad that she is now gone when there was so much she should’ve lived for. Rest in peace, Jayanna, you were taken too soon.”

“Growing up, Jayanna used to be one of my closest friends,” Amira Eme wrote. “She was always so sweet and knew how to make someone laugh. As we started getting older, our friendship slowly started to die. We had started making our own friends in middle school and we eventually only knew each other as associates, instead of close friends. Our friendship didn’t really end until she moved to a different school. I regret not keeping in touch with her. I regret not appreciating her more. She deserved the world. We will love and miss you so much, Jayanna.”

“Hey, Jay, I know you’re not here, but I just wanna say you were a great person,” friend Clairedosha Morisset wrote. “It’s still hard for me to take in you’re gone. But I want you to know that you were a good friend to me.”

To support the Francois family, two GoFundMe pages were started; the first was deactivated in favor of the second one.

The first page raised $3,078 and included kind messages from donors.

“I am so heartbroken to hear this news,” teacher Kristy Drobik wrote. “Jayanna was one of my former students and I still remember her smile and sweet personality. She would often come visit my classroom after she moved on to the next grade. Her family is in my prayers.”

“I am heartbroken over this news of Jayanna,” teacher Liliana Santos wrote. “She was a wonderful, smart and caring student. I remember her coming to see me even after leaving my class just to say hello. My deepest condolences to the family. My heart is with you during this difficult time.”

The second GoFundMe page has, as of press time on Sept. 1, raised $3,051. The drive is located here. This page was set up by Francois’ father to help pay for her funeral costs.

“My name is Bayard Francois and I am the father of 14-year-old McManus Middle School student Jayanna Rosechelle Francois, whose body was found last week in the lake at Warinanco Park in Roselle,” he wrote. “This tragic incident has been very painful for our entire family.”