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On Monday, December 24, 2018 Essien Jovan Edokpayi was shot and killed on the 300 block of Bel Air Drive in Vacaville, California by Daignet Montoya after a petty argument with a small group of teens. This senseless act of violence has had a powerful and explosive impact and is being called California's "Trayvon Martin" tradgedy. This website is dedicated to the life, legacy and justice for Essien.



An Adoptive Mothers Love Story - banner.jpg


This story is meant to inspire, encourage, inform, empower and heal. It is the telling of a beautiful and compelling Love Story that is filled with joy, laughter, happiness, hope, pain and tragedy that leads back to hope.

At the dawning of December 24, 2018 my heart was ripped and torn apart when my phone rang, as I looked at my phone the number was not familiar. As I answered the call – I hear an unfamiliar voice on the other end – he asked if I was Debra Edokpayi and I replied “yes I am” there was a slight hesitation as I heard the words “Ma’am, I’m sorry to inform you…” my mind, emotions and heart split into fragments… he continued to speak as I tried to somehow regain some semblance of awareness but the next words he said will echo in my mind forever “your son Essien has been killed”.  At that moment time stood still as I tried to make sense of these words, words that every mother fears, words that every African-American mother shutters at the very thought of hearing...

Read The Story
A Mother's Love Story
Read the compelling and powerful story from Essien's mother - Debra Edokpayi.
Read The Story
A Brother's Eternal Bond
Essien's death has impacted his older brother in immeasurable ways. Read this powerful story of what Essien meant to him and the eternal bond between two brothers that is destined to change the world.
Read The Story
A Family's Joy
Essien had a large family - hear their stories about who Essien was to them.


January 24, 2018 10:05am PST

The latest statement from Essien's family was released today. You can read the statement below:

For Immediate Release: 

One month since the Chirstmas Eve shooting and murder

of Essien J. Edokpayi family statement

(Debra Edokpayi - Mother of Essien)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Death (Murder) of Essien J. Edokpayi: Family Statement (Debra Edokpayi- Mother of Essien) Vacaville, CA (January 24, 2019): Essien J. Edokpayi (E-DOE-PI-AY) born on October 27, 2001 was shot and killed on Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24, 2018) by Daignet Montoya after Montoya engaged in an argument with a small group of young teens on the 300 Block of Bel Air Drive in Vacaville, CA.

"It has been one month since the tragic death of my son. First, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for the response and concern from the entire Vacaville Community, the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming. I want to thank Pastor Wyatt Duncan and the entire staff and members of First Baptist Church here in Vacaville where Essien’s funeral was held. They have gone over and above in their support, caring and giving and I want to personally thank them.

In previous weeks, we have held the Community Vigil, Wake, Public Viewing and Funeral services for Essien and now my family and I must deal with the cold reality that this is not a nightmare from which I will soon awake. My pain is deep, and it is real and although it has been 1 month since Essien’s death – the pain gets deeper and more gripping as time goes by.

This pain and heartache has been exacerbated by the unconditional release of 39-year-old Daignet Montoya who killed my son two days after he was arrested for murder. While my family and I have had constant contact, and communication with the Vacaville Police Department – the fact that I have not received a single phone call directly from the District Attorney (Krishna Abrams) is beyond comprehension. Even the mayor of Vacaville attended the Family and Community Vigil that we recently held and was quite supportive in both his words and actions. The fact that the District Attorney (an elected official) has failed to call or simply offer any explanation to me and my family as to why the man who shot and killed my son on Christmas Eve was released continues to cause hurt, pain and at this point anger.

My family and I have lived in Vacaville for over 20 years, my son Essien grew up in Vacaville, attended school, played soccer and participated in other recreational activities here in Vacaville his entire childhood. I would never have imagined the quiet family-oriented community and its peaceful tree lined streets where I raised my family would be the place that a violent shooting, killing and death would occur. The reality that this indeed has happened in the place I call home and more horrifically it has happened to my child has caused unspeakable grief.

While my hurt, pain and anger are real – I am hopeful that my family and I will hear from the District Attorney and she will provide an explanation as to why Daignet Montoya was released. In the meantime, we continue to demand that this 39-year-old man be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I have recorded and released a video sharing my thoughts and reflections over the past month since my son was murdered – you can view it on the family website we have setup for Essien – www.our-essien.com."



You can learn more about Essien’s story from the perspective of me, my mother and Essien’s extended family at the website – www.our-essien.com

For more information, press only:
Roslyn Taggart (Family Spokesperson)

Phone: (
707) 244-4506 Ext 101






Watch this space for updates.