CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The mother of Jamile Hill, 29, says she never knew the number of lives her daughter touched — that her daughter refused to let her mental and physical conditions become setbacks — and instead became an inspiration and motivator for others.
“She was a one-pound preemie and had a stroke at birth,” said Shawn Eure-Wilson, a day after her daughter’s body was found. “She also had hydrocephalus, so she came into the world fighting.”
Hydrocephalus is water on the brain, and meant that Hill had to have a dozen surgeries. Despite those physical challenges and having autism, she made her mom proud on graduation day.
“She graduated Tidewater Community College magna cum laude, with a 3.7 GPA.”
Hill inspired her mother to change her career to become a qualified mental health practitioner, and inspired her sister to become a special education teacher. She helped others with similar challenges, and wouldn’t let them use those mental or physical conditions as an excuse.
“[She’d tell them] ‘Suck it up. I had an [individualized education plan] too, and I have disabilities, but I have a degree. Suck it up – you can do anything,'” Eure-Wilson said.
Hill’s body was found Monday morning in a tributary of the Elizabeth River, just off Bainbridge Boulevard.
Standing across the street smoking a cigarette — that’s what Hill was doing the last time her mother saw her Saturday night. She lived with her mother off Bainbridge Boulevard.
“She left her cell phone, she left her bank card, no ID, she just disappeared,” Eure-Wilson said.
A man driving a truck alerted authorities after seeing a body floating in the water, and there were no signs in recent days or weeks that she was upset or in danger.
Virginia State Police say a missing person alert went out for Hill as a critically missing adult under the Ashanti Billie law, and the alert mentioned her autism. Hill’s mother says she wants Virginia’s new autism alert guidelines changed to include adults with autism, although a state police spokeswoman says there was no delay in getting the alert sent out.
“I know the laws need to be looked at and challenged,” Hill’s mother said. In the meantime, she struggles with the unanswered questions about her disappearance and death.
“I pray that whatever happened, it was peaceful. I pray that she didn’t struggle.”
An autopsy will be performed on Hill, but her mother says they don’t expect results for three to four months.
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