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Vigil to remember Brackenridge woman whose death remains unsolved

Chuck Biedka
| Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cindy Lang knows better than most what the family of Kelly Nicole Godfrey Smith understands.

Lang's daughter, Dana Pliakas, a Franklin Regional School junior, was 17 when she was murdered in 2003, her body left outside at the base of a flight of steps in North Braddock. Two people are serving life sentences.

It's been three years since the body of Smith, 27, of Brackenridge, was found in the Allegheny River near the mouth of Chartiers Run in the Braeburn section of Lower Burrell. A vigorous investigation continues, according to police.

On Monday, Lang will be a speaker at a vigil for Smith. Lang is Pittsburgh-area chapter leader of the Parents of Murdered Children organization.

Other scheduled speakers include Traci Adams from the HOPE Center in Tarentum; the Rev. Miroslaw Stelmaszczyk, from Holy Family Catholic Church, East Deer; and Kelly's brother, Patrick.

In addition to her parents and brother, Kelly Nicole is survived by her husband, son and stepdaughter.

Lang, of Murrysville, said despite a 10-year difference in age, there are many similarities between her daughter, Dana, and Smith.

"They were both blonde and known to be outgoing. Maybe too outgoing," Lang said. "Everyone was her friend and we warned her about that, but she wouldn't listen."

Friends and family noticed the same trait in Smith.

Smith was a tall, thin blond who was popular at school and work and known as a lifelong friend to the friendless.

Lang said the murders of children forever change parents, regardless of whether someone is arrested for the killing.

"When you are the parent of a murdered child, it's so much more painful when someone isn't charged with the murder. It makes you angry," Lang said.

A murdered child, she said, causes a "hurt like no other."

"I hate the word 'closure,' " Lang said. "There is never closure."

Lang said she learned about the arrest of a girl and man for the murder of her daughter from a detective who came to the funeral home.

Smith's parents, John and Karen Godfrey, are still waiting for investigators to give them answers.

"Another year and we still have no justice for Kelly," Karen Godfrey said.

Additional Information:

If you go

What: Memorial vigil by family and friends of the late Kelly Nicole Godfrey Smith

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: St. Joseph High School gym, Montana Avenue, Harrison

Additional Information:

Reward for news

Kelly Nicole Godfrey Smith's family is still offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her death three years ago this week.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office at 724-830-3949 or Lower Burrell police at 724-339-4287.

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