Services have been announced for Akirah Townes, the Orange woman who was killed in Montclair last week.

Kyjuan Westry, the director of Woody Home for Services in Orange, said that there would be a celebration of Akirah's life at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 5 at the Lincoln Avenue School gymnasium in Orange. Before that, there will be a domestic violence rally in Akirah's honor at the Orange Police Department headquarters. The rally will start with a march leaving from the Townes family home at 12 p.m., and the march will proceed to the police department.

Akirah was looking forward to receiving her degree in special education from Kean University this summer and then becoming a teacher. Described as bright and ambitious by her family, she would have completed her degree at the age of 20.

Akirah was stabbed on Hartley Street in Montclair during the early morning hours on Friday by her ex-boyfriend who turned himself in to police later that day. She was pronounced dead sometime later at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson.

A driven force

She was a daughter, a sister and an aunt, and although the youngest of 11 children, a role model to her family members.

"I'm 26 and I looked up to her," Ameena Townes, Akirah's older sister, said on Monday. She recalled how her sister helped her through the tedious, confusing financial aid paperwork.

Akirah attended Essex County College for two years before earning a scholarship to Kean. She also worked at The Gap, where she was named Employee of the Month.

Ameena said her sister pursued a degree in special education partly in tribute to one of her brothers, who before his death four years ago had coped with mental disabilities. Akirah also had dreams of starting non-profit groups to help children and teens in the community.

Toxic relationship

Ahighah Broomes, 21, is being held on charges of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. Ameena said that Akirah had just ended a relationship with the man last summer, and she described the relationship as "toxic." Akirah was planning a trip to Virginia Beach.

Broomes had a preliminary court date scheduled for Thursday, May 2 in Essex County Superior Court.

A candlelight vigil for Akirah took place in Orange over the weekend, and friends and family posted tribute messages to her on her Facebook page.

"This isn't the end of anything," she said. "If we have to, we will have a candlelight vigil for her every night. If we have to, we will have a march for her every week."

Townes added that she had a message for anyone, young or old, male or female, in a similar situation: "If you are in a domestic violence relationship, if you are in that kind of toxic relationship, leave. It's not worth your life."