Michelle Harlan

Slain teen was starting to turn her life around, family says

Michelle Harlan's friends and family milled about her home Monday afternoon, hugging, crying and asking themselves one question.

Who would kill Michelle?

Detectives told the family that whoever killed Harlan, 17, and dumped her body in Carter Lake most likely knew her, said her sister, Dionne Harlan.

That person might even know them.

"I'm just looking everybody up and down," Dionne Harlan said. "Do they have any scratches on them?"

Omaha police identified Michelle Harlan as the person found Saturday morning in Carter Lake. She was at least 6 months pregnant.

Her death is being treated as a homicide, though police are releasing few details. Police are asking anyone with information to call the homicide unit at 444-5656 or Crime Stoppers at 444-STOP.

The last time anyone reported seeing Harlan was at the home of her grandparents Gerald and Barbara Green near 38th and Parker Streets, where she also lived.

Harlan received a phone call, then a visit from someone about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Gerald Green said.

"She said she was going to come outside," he said. "Of course, she wasn't dressed for the weather or anything, so we figured she'd come back in.

"And she didn't come back."

A Carter Lake resident observing wildlife in Levi Carter Park discovered her body about 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Relatives said Harlan started to turn her life around after spending time at the State Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva, Neb. Gerald and Barbara Green said they tried to guide her.

Harlan was born with fetal-alcohol syndrome and had problems in school, Gerald Green said. She dropped out of Norris Middle School in 1999, but recently she talked about earning her high school equivalency diploma and finding a job, Green said.

Life dealt Harlan a blow in June when Kalon Blackbird, the father of her unborn child and 18-month-old daughter, Sequoia, died unexpectedly, her family said.

Still, Harlan was excited to be pregnant, especially after doctors told her that the baby was a boy.

Note: Michelle was 8 months pregnant at the time of her death. A 21-year-old man has been arrested.

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"When I die I'm going to dance first in all the galaxies...
I'm gonna play and dance and sing."
-- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying

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