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Hawthorne homicide shocks residents

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Alachua County Deputies are still searching for a suspect in the Hawthorne homicide from April 21. Christen Cassels, 24, was murdered in her home late Friday. Hawthorne is a small town of about 1,500 people and many locals say they don't remember the last time such a brutal crime happened in their community. Long-time residents say crime has not really been an issue.

Mrs. Dorothy Gillins says she has lived in Hawthorne her whole life and has watched the city evolve. " Just a small community like this (where) kids grew up together-- to hear and learn about something like that was a shock to me," she said. "Surprisingly, I never thought I would see some of the stuff that's happening now...things like this happen in communities, but a small community where you think everybody cares for everybody is sad."

A neighbor, that chose to be anonymous, says she lived in Hawthorne for 10 years and has a different outlook on the area. "They always shooting out here. it could be a holiday or not they gon be shooting. but by the time the police get here everything is done and over with." She says the police presence should increase-- "It needs to be stronger. Matter fact I've called and called, they'll show up for a while then after that you don't see them anymore."

Alachua County Sheriff's Office has at least one deputy assigned to Hawthorne city limits at all times as apart of the municipal services taxing unit.

While neighbors have different feelings on the area, all are still trying to wrap their mind around how anyone can do something so cruel. "That's a child and it hurts, it really hurts," Gillins said.

If you have any information but wish to share it anonymously, you can contact crime stoppers or go online at Alachuasheriff.org

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