Consuaila Braden-Hughes, 22, of Kansas City, wanted a better future.
She enrolled in cosmetology school last year but couldn’t raise enough money to pay for it. So she switched tactics and signed up for a culinary arts course through the Full Employment Council that was supposed to start in July.
“She was taking care of herself and doing what she had to do,” said her mother, Connie Parker. “She was very independent and strong-willed.”
But Sunday night, someone shot her to death just east of 42nd Street and Virginia Avenue, not far from where she was living with her aunt. Relatives and police don’t know who killed her or why. But they don’t think it was random.
“It seemed very deliberate,” said her aunt, LaGayle Braden. “It wasn’t like she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Police are trying to piece together Braden-Hughes’ final 24 hours, hoping the information will reveal more about the killing.
Braden last saw her niece Sunday afternoon enjoying the warm weather on a front porch in the 4000 block of Tracy Avenue.
“I shouted out the car window to her, ‘Praise the Lord!’ ” Braden said. “And she yelled it back, ‘Praise the Lord!’ That was the last thing she said to me.’”
Braden-Hughes, who grew up in Kansas City, dropped out of high school, a move she later regretted, relatives said. She earned her general equivalency diploma and preached to her five younger siblings and relatives to stay in school.
“She tried to keep them encouraged,” Parker said. “She knew the struggles she was having because she dropped out.”
Braden-Hughes got married at age 19, despite relatives’ concerns that she was too young and that the couple wasn’t financially stable.
“We had that conversation,” Braden said, “that maybe she should wait until she was older. But she was having no part of that.”
She was bold, self-confident and lived by her own rules, relatives said, even wearing a black dress to her wedding.
Her husband is in prison. Relatives weren’t sure Monday whether he had been notified of her death. The couple had no children.
Braden-Hughes, the oldest of six children, had hoped to get a cosmetology license and open a salon alongside a beauty supply store, relatives said.
“She wanted to make it into a family business,” Braden said. “She always talked about that.”
Police ask anyone with information about her killing to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (474-8477).