Throughout her life, Destiny McCord, 13, was a devout Christian. But the death of her father from kidney cancer in 2010 brought her even closer to her faith.
Ten years old at the time, "she dealt with it as well as any child," Nikki McCord, one of Destiny's older sisters, told msnbc. As the youngest sister of five siblings still living at home with her parents, Destiny witnessed the physical and emotional cost of her father's illness. But she comforted her family more than she wept in her own sorrow. During the healing process Destiny relied on several of her friends for support who had also lost a parent to illness.
"She was actually probably the strongest one out of all of us," another sister, Mindy Lafayette, told msnbc. "She probably had a hard time dealing with it, but she didn't show it to a lot of people."
Her sisters said she was a "Daddy's girl" who explored the outdoors with her father. The pair often rode the four-wheeler to search for arrowheads and rocks to add to Destiny's collection. Her enthusiasm for the environment led to an interest in archaeology, a profession she might have explored after college. One day in early 2009, Destiny's father took her hunting and she killed her first turkey. They also spent most Saturdays during the summer months with the rest of the family at a lake close to their home in Tupelo, Miss., water-skiing and wake-boarding on the water.
Destiny played as a guard on the girls' seventh-grade basketball team at Guntown Middle School in Guntown, Miss., where she regularly made the honor roll. She joined the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the youth group at Center Hill Baptist Church. The athletes met at least once each month for a Bible study group. The church's youth group went caroling and brought fruit baskets to the elderly in the community at Christmas.
Destiny wanted to be friends with everyone. Her sisters said she often introduced herself to strangers and told them: "You may not know me, but we're going to be friends."
Destiny was found on March 26, two days after being shot in the head in her Tupelo home. Her mother, Danica McCord, was also shot to death. The mother's boyfriend had committed suicide at the scene and is suspected in their deaths.