BAKERSFIELD, CALIF - For many, adding to the tragedy of 15-year-old Stacy Duke's murder is knowing she was here in Bakersfield seemingly alone. The teen's older brother says she was loved, but she had a difficult life. He says Stacy did what she had to do in order to survive.
Adam Pittman says his sister's short life was filled with struggle as she was born into the foster care system. "Foster care, it's not what you want to know in life, not what you want to learn...how to run the government or how the government can run you", says Pittman.
He says he and Stacy's mother had four children, but they never all lived together at once, they were always in and out of the system. He says the family is originally from San Bernardino. He says his mother loved them, but she struggled with addiction.
He says Stacy's dream was to get out of foster care and go back home. "She just wanted to live with her family again and be with her family."
Pittman says he last spoke to his 15-year-old sister around 4 months ago. She told him she was safe, living in Bakersfield with a boyfriend. "She called me personally and said 'I'm on the run, I don't want to be in foster care anymore, I don't want to be in a foster home'. She was doing everything she had to do to survive as a homeless teen."
Pittman says he is also homeless, living in Los Angeles. He says he disagreed with her decision to runaway and urged her to go back, but he admits he understands why she ran.
"She expressed to me every time she got to talk to me, 'I hate where I live, I hate that I'm in the foster care system'. You don't see the neglect from families who act like they care about you, but in the end they're only there for that $900 check they get at the end of the month", says Pittman.
He says their mother is in prison on drug charges, but will be getting out soon and was planning on taking care of Stacy when she did. He says he would do anything for just one more moment with his little sister. "To tell her she is strong, stronger than I was ever, just to be by her side and tell her she is loved, that's all I want...I wish I could've...that's my regret."
But Pittman says he knows Stacy knew her family loved her and thought about her everyday. Since learning his sister was strangled to death inside a Bakersfield garage, he's struggled with his emotions, but says he forgives his sister's killer, because that's what she would've wanted.
"My sister, she lived from the heart, she loved from the heart. She never hated people. She hated situations and circumstances, but she never hated people", says Pittman.
Bakersfield Police say Stacy Duke was reported missing from group homes numerous times throughout the years, but no one had reported her missing this last time she ran away.
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