‘Sunday was horrible for me’: Family of murdered 32-year-old woman pushes for answers

Ahylea Willard had a cheerful spirit, her mother said. That is now gone.
32-year-old Ahylea Willard was found dead Sunday in east Charlotte.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 4:55 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Two days after a 32-year-old woman was found dead in east Charlotte, her parents are pushing for answers and hoping someone comes forward.

“She was the life of the house, the life of the party,” mom Mary McMasters said.

Ahylea Willard had a cheerful spirit, McMasters said. That is now gone.

Police are searching for the car that belonged to a 32-year-old woman who was murdered in Charlotte.

“Sunday was horrible for me. Getting the news, I was just leaving church. I was hysterical because I couldn’t believe that somebody had murdered my baby, my baby girl, my only daughter,” McMasters said.

A phone call, nearly 24 hours before on Saturday, was perhaps a premonition.

“I was headed home from work - I work in Raleigh - and she just dropped in my spirit and I said, ‘Let me call Leah and see what she’s up to.’ When she answered the phone, I said, ‘Hey baby girl, what you doing?’ She said, ‘I’m out eating.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to bother you but I just want to tell you I love you and please be safe out there,’ and that was the last time I heard from her,” McMasters said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say they were called around 10:30 a.m. Sunday to the area of Snow Lane. When officers arrived, they found Willard’s body - her mom says was visiting Charlotte from Asheboro - with a gunshot wound.

Willard was pronounced dead at the scene.

Related: CMPD investigating homicide in east Charlotte

“Car is missing, items she has is missing. Things stolen off her body. Videos was on Facebook of her lying there, in the posture she was in,” McMasters said.

The mother says she’s watched the viral video of her daughter multiple times. When asked why, McMasters said she wanted to see if whoever murdered her daughter cared enough, even in death.

“I wanted to see if they had just an inkling of compassion when they laid her down on that ground,” she said.

The McMasters remain anchored in their faith.

“It’s given me a peace that surpasses understanding. I keep telling my husband without it, I don’t believe I could have stood these last couple of days,” she said.

Willard’s family is now hoping someone comes forward.

“I would say to somebody if you know anything that can help bring whoever did this to my baby girl to justice, please call the police department,” her mother said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to support the family with funeral expenses.

WBTV asked CMPD about the missing items and video McMasters referenced. As of Tuesday night, there has not been a response.

No arrests have been made in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the CMPD at (704) 432-TIPS and speak directly to a homicide unit detective.