Caring, resilient and artistic: Community remembers young mother killed in Anchorage homicide

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 4:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Those who knew 23-year-old Darla Velador are grieving her loss and remembering her kindness and artistic talent.

The young mother was stabbed to death on Friday, along with her dog. Police have arrested her father, 46-year-old Armando Velador Padilla, in connection with the incident, who allegedly told detectives that voices told him to kill the devil, and that the devil was in his daughter. He also allegedly said the devil was in the dog and that he used a knife to ‘kill the devil,” according to charging documents.

“Darla is one of those kids everybody remembers,” said Adam Mokelke, a former principal at Burchell High School, an alternative school for at-risk youth in Wasilla.

Mokelke said Velador attended Burchell High School during his tenure there, and he remembers her as an amazing artist, a young mom determined to graduate and someone who did everything with a smile.

“My first memory that stands out, other than just what a beautiful soul she was, was how artistic she was,” Mokelke said. “I talked with her a lot about what she could do with her art. She was so talented.”

Velador was among students who wrote and produced their own recorded music. As an adult, she loved to perform and sing karaoke.

“She had so much confidence when she got on stage, and I’m going to miss seeing her and hearing her amazing voice,” said Tracii Kohler, who met Velador when they both participated in a karaoke competition.

Her life was not without struggle, but she remained positive, Mokelke said.

“She fought through some difficult circumstances, being a young mom and struggling to get through high school and finish high school, but she did it. She finished,” he said. “She graduated as a young mom which, that that in itself, should say a lot about her, that not everyone who goes through being pregnant and parenting at a young age has the strength and the fortitude to finish high school and to, you know, at the same time have a family and continue on with life, and she did that.”

Mokelke said the news of Velador’s death is devastating, and he spent time speaking with former colleagues over the weekend who also knew and miss her.

“One of my first thoughts went to her son,” he said, later adding, “She was just such a magnetic and a positive personality. She was loved, and she’s gonna be missed. This is just horrible.”

Velador’s friends took to social media to share condolences, memories and videos of her singing. Mokelke said he hopes people will take time to read about the impact Velador had on those around her.

“If you just look on social media, it’ll show you how many lives she touched,” he said.

A GoFundMe page raising funds for funeral expenses for Velador and her dog, Max, had raised more than $5,500 by Monday afternoon.

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