Mother relies on faith after losing all 3 children to Memphis violence

James Stokes Jr., Mario Lofton, and Ranita Burke (Source: submitted)
James Stokes Jr., Mario Lofton, and Ranita Burke (Source: submitted)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A parent should never have to bury their child. Yet, one Memphis mother has buried all three of hers--each of them murdered in the Bluff City.

Her latest tragedy involved her son Mario Lofton. He was found shot and killed on Faxon Avenue on July 16. Memphis Police Department identified Donvoe Sanders as a person of interest in the crime.

Mario was the youngest of three siblings. His brother and sister had already been lost to violent crime in Memphis.

Their grieving mother, Priscilla Taylor, is now left to raise her five grandchildren.

"The book of Job--look at Job," Taylor said. "Job lost everything. So, see you can take my kids, but they can't take my faith."

Taylor just buried the last of her three children.

Her oldest son James Stokes Jr. was killed in a double shooting in South Memphis in 2011. His murder is still a cold case.

Just nine months later, her middle child and only daughter Ranita Burke was stabbed to death on Summer Avenue while leaving her job. The killer, Ranita's husband, was convicted in 2012.

Less than a month ago, her youngest son Mario was gunned down in Mitchell Heights and left to die on a porch.

Taylor is now raising five of her grandchildren, who have lots of questions.

"'Is my momma or is my daddy in heaven?'" Taylor said her grandchildren ask.

She and the children are in counseling, and she reassures them it will be OK.

"It's nothing wrong with you," Taylor said. "You don't have to be crazy, because I mean they are kids you know so counseling--they don't want anybody to know.

She said her daughter was a college graduate who was working hard to provide for her children.

Taylor admits her sons had turned to the streets.

After losing all three children, she said people judge her parenting.

"On social media, they say I must've been a gang member or my kids weren't raised right," Taylor said. "Oh yes they were, you know? Oh yes they were."

Taylor said some days the grief is overwhelming, but she keeps going. She prays that her pain will encourage someone to turn from violence.

"I hope one of these young men or young ladies will look at this and say, 'Wow that could be my momma,'" Taylor said.

A GoFundMe page was set up for Priscilla Taylor. Click here to go to the page.

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