How This Michigan Town Made Something Beautiful Out of a Murder
In July 2014 a tragedy struck the otherwise peaceful town of Armada in Macomb County.
April Millsap was only fourteen years old when she went for a walk that summer day with her dog. As she strolled down one of the area's recreation trails, there was someone lurking in the woods, waiting. When April came walking by, the man – who was from St. Clair – came out of the woods and whacked April in the head with his motorcycle helmet. He dragged her into the woods, made an attempt to molest her, and proceeded to “stomp and beat” her to death. She died from asphyxiation due to a crushed windpipe.
The St. Clair man, 20 years older than April, was discovered and found guilty on all counts of murder. In 2016 he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
This senseless act knocked the wind out of the residents of Armada. Feeling sorrowful for April's family just wasn't going to be enough. Many friends, neighbors, acquaintances, schoolmates.....even strangers all came together to do something to remember and honor April. One of those people, Deb Randall, nominated the town of Armada in a Reader's Digest contest to be one of “The 50 Nicest Places in America” and won for Michigan.
But it didn't stop there.
In 2015, a patch of land near the Macomb Orchard Trail (where April was attacked) was made into something special. Over time, residents worked hard to make this extra special and serene...it became a garden of shrubs and flowers: daylilies, lavender, zinnias, and others. There are benches for people to stop and rest, an arbor, statues, bird houses & feeders...a beautiful combination of memorial and wildlife habitat. All thanks to not just the residents of Armada, but donations by Michiganders from all across the state.
The area is now known as the April Millsap Memorial Garden. It won't erase the memory of what happened, but it is proof of how much love the town has for April.
Meantime, add Armada to your Michigan roadtrip and pay a visit to April's Garden.....and sit for awhile.
APRIL MILLSAP MEMORIAL GARDEN
THANKS TO and read more about this story at:
The Detroit Free Press