Jill Eubanks-Sullivan last saw her daughter alive Saturday night, when the soon-to-be beautician painted her mother's nails in a dizzying array of colors in the comfort of her grandmother's home in West Baltimore.
A few hours later and without anyone knowing, Makeya Chante Stewart, 19, apparently walked out of the Baker Street rowhouse. Police found her about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, wounded from several gunshots and lying next to a stone wall in an alley 10 blocks away.
Ms. Stewart, an active member of her church and a youth leader who graduated from a Catholic high school last year, died an hour later at Liberty Medical Center, a slaying that police say is as perplexing as it is tragic.
"Her death is inconsistent with her life," said Homicide Detective Frank Barlow, who is leading the investigation and pleaded for "anybody who knows anything, no matter how small, to call us."
"This young lady had everything going for her," the detective said. "She was pretty, attractive, bright, furthering her education and working. I just don't understand. I wish we knew something."
Described as an outgoing young woman with a broad smile, Ms. Stewart left her parents' Garrison Boulevard home after graduating from Mercy High School and moved in with her grandmother, a step toward independence.
She worked part time at a bowling alley on Security Boulevard and planned to work as a beautician to earn college tuition. She hoped to study psychology.
On Wednesday, the victim had accompanied her parents to the New Psalmist Baptist Church, where they enrolled her sister, Shannon Sullivan, 5, in preschool, and captured the moment on videotape.
"She was a precious daughter," said her father, Donald Sullivan, 42. "She was going to go places."
A funeral service for Ms. Stewart, the city's 216th homicide victim, is scheduled for Saturday.
"It makes no sense," said the Rev. Walter S. Thomas of New Psalmist in the 100 block of W. Franklin St., where Ms. Stewart had been going since her first birthday. "I'm praying and believing that they are going to find the murderer."
But Detective Barlow said police need help. Investigators said they have no idea why the victim left the house shortly after painting her mother's nails. Ms. Stewart's parents and grandmother don't remember her leaving, and she had to be at church by 7 a.m. to sing in the choir.
What happened between the rowhouse in the 3100 block of Baker St. and the alley 10 blocks north in the 3300 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway is a mystery. Police and family members said Ms. Stewart usually did not leave the house late at night.
When found, she was dressed casually in white sweat pants, a shirt and a dark jacket -- another inconsistency for a woman who was known to dress up for even simple outdoor excursions. "She was not dressed to go on a date," Detective Barlow said. "It was like she was dressed to go around the house."
About 3:30 a.m., a police 911 emergency dispatcher received an anonymous call from a person who heard at least one gunshot.
A police officer drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes and found Ms. Stewart in a wide alley that links Hilton and Denison streets behind neatly kept rowhouses.
A 24-year-old woman whose house abuts the slaying scene said she heard one or two shots, but never ventured outside. "I was scared," the woman said.
Mr. Thomas said he plans to emphasize "how senseless" the killing was at the funeral Saturday. "We cannot take this world for granted and think that it is our friend in any way," he said. "It shows just how vulnerable young people are."
Ms. Stewart's parents, sitting on a couch yesterday in the grandmother's home, said an arrest would help them understand why their daughter was killed.
"We are not trying to harbor any ill feelings," Mr. Sullivan said. "We just want the culprit brought to justice. It's a crazy world. What this city needs is to come back to God."
Anyone with information is urged to call the homicide unit at 396-2100.