After a long battle with Huntington's disease, Kathleen Edward, the 9-year-old girl who was taunted on Facebook in 2010, died at about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, according to Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack.
Kathleen was at her father's house in Wyandotte when she died.
Kathleen was the center of a feud with neighbors, Jennifer and Scott Petkov on Detroit Street, that eventually led to Jennifer Petkov admittingly doctoring photos to depict Edward and her late mother in a skull and cross bones and embraced by the grim reaper.
Laura Edward, Kathleen's mother, died as a result of Huntington's disease in 2009.
Kathleen's grandmother, Rebecca Rose, said she had mixed emotions about Kathleen's death.
"A part of me is angry as hell because I shouldn't have to bury my daughter and granddaughter," Rose said. "I'm happy that she's not suffering anymore. She’s back with her mother again."
Rose said she was feeling very alone, but the hundreds of Facebook posts she received Thursday morning were comforting.
"I was sitting there crying and the only thing that comforted me was all the posts on Facebook," Rose said. "It warms my heart that so many people knew what an amazingly beautiful and perfect child she was."
Renee Chilson, principal at Southgate’s Fordline Elementary School where Kathleen attended, said grief counselors are on hand, but that officials are taking a hands-off approach to discussing anything publicly.
“We are trying to make this as normal of a day as possible for our students,” she said. “At this point, our main concern is for the family, our students and our staff.”
Kathleen and Rose were part of a story that touched the lives of more than 1 million Trenton Patch readers after an article about Kathleen went viral in 2011.
Emails poured in from people from all over the world from places as far away as Australia and Great Britain and from people across the United States. Thousands of emails, comments and Facebook posts to show Kathleen that the world had her back.
Trenton Patch editor Nate Stemen's in-box was flooded with emails offering cash and flowers and everything in between.
For a moment it seemed the world stood united for Kathleen and her family.
"I feel for the family," Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack said. "I would like people to know to keep them in their thoughts and prayers. She was such a sweet little girl."
Rose continues to battle the Petkovs in court on alleged personal protection order violations. The families have a court date coming up that could finally settle a feud that has been going on for more than four years.
The Petkovs and Edwards have a court date scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 23 in front of Judge Lita Popke at the Coleman Young Municipal Building in Detroit.
A memorial for Kathleen Edward will be held at Michigan Memorial Funeral Home in Flat Rock according to Rose.
She added Kathleen will be buried next to her mother at Mount Hope Memorial Gardens in Livonia.
"I really want everyone to know how much I appreciate all the condolences and the kind words and for remembering her beautiful smile," Rose said.
People wishing to offer condolences should reach Rebecca Rose via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information about Huntington's disease including early-onset cases like Kathleen's can be found on the U.S. National Library of Medicine's website.
This story was updated at 10:28 a.m. Thursday with quotes from Rebecca Rose. This story also was updated at 12:36 p.m. Thursday with information from Fordline Elementary School. Wyandotte Patch Editor Jason Alley also contributed to this story. An additional update was made at 4:52 p.m. with quotes from Trenton Mayor Kyle Stack.