CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — A friend of one of the two people found dead at Rocky River Reservation shared her memories of him Thursday, describing Carnell Sledge as a kind, optimistic person who was devoted to his friends and family.
Cleveland Metroparks Police detectives continue to investigate the deaths of Sledge, 40, and Katherine Brown, 33. Both are considered homicides.
Alyssa, who said she has been friends with Sledge for about a year, did not want her last name used and did not want to be on camera since her friend's killer has not yet been caught.
"This is just a terrible, terrible thing and it’s really hard to grasp," Alyssa said of her friend's death. "And it’s really hard to make sense of. There is no way to make sense of it."
Alyssa shared photos of Sledge with News 5, including some that she took of him after taking a photo for his passport.
"He was one of my best friends," Alyssa said. "I’ve only known him for a year. I wish it were longer, but he changed my life in so many ways over the past year. I just can’t imagine my life without him in it."
Alyssa described taking Sledge to a friend's wedding. By the end of the night, she said, he was friends with everyone.
"He was a people person," Alyssa said. "He really believed in helping people. He lived for the kids that he helped."
Applewood Centers, an organization in Ohio City, said Sledge worked there as a part-time employee.
"Our hearts are with Mr. Sledge's and Ms. Brown's families during this very difficult time," Brett Katz of Applewood Centers wrote in an emailed statement.
Sledge also worked for the Westlake City School District, according to superintendent Dr. Scott Goggin, who said Sledge assisted with special education classes from 2013 to 2018.
Goggin described Sledge as someone who was "very well-liked" by both students and staff. He said Sledge did a great job with kids and was passionate about working with children with disabilities. He said the news was "heartbreaking."
Alyssa said Sledge had a number of sayings about staying positive and optimistic.
"Whenever I felt down, he wouldn’t let me," Alyssa said. "He would try to talk me back up. That’s what he was good at, is taking someone from any walk of life and just raising them up, giving them confidence, helping them build themselves and their confidence."
Yet, Alyssa said, Sledge never wanted to be in the spotlight.
"He was a behind-the-scenes, let someone else take the credit," Alyssa said. "He was one of those genuine silent leaders."
Alyssa said she last saw Sledge on Sunday, a few days before his death.
"I know he had so many friends, so many family members," Alyssa said. "Everyone’s important to him and he tries to make time for everyone, so I felt lucky that I did get some time this weekend."
Finding out about her friend's death was shocking.
"He did not deserve that," Alyssa said. "He’s a beautiful person and did not deserve that kind of end."
Alyssa said Sledge would be missed by many people.
"There’s going to be an empty hole in a lot of lives," Alyssa said. "And all the people that he helped, especially the kids that don’t understand what happened. And they’re used to seeing him every week at camps and he’s not there anymore. How do you explain that?"
She said she would try to remember what Sledge would want her and others to do.
"He would not want us to get angry," Alyssa said. "He would not want us to stop living our lives."