Ayanna’s “infectious smile”: Father grieves the loss of daughter in Virginia homicide


GERMANTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — A Montgomery County, Maryland father is working to find peace several days after an arrest was made in the murder of a northern Virginia couple — including his 18-year-old daughter.

“I want to feel angry, I really do. But it’s not in me, I don’t know why,” says Ivan Maertens Aramayo of his daughter’s death. “The worst part of my day is the first four or five minutes when I wake up, it’s really hard and I realize she isn’t here.”

He has more questions than answers after his daughter, Ayanna Maertens Griffin, and her boyfriend Joel Bianda were found murdered in Halifax County in southern Virginia over a week ago.

“All I can think of is if she suffered. I’m haunted by those thoughts. I always see these flashes, they’re really bad and I wish they would go away,” he said.

He’s received support from family, friends and people online. He hopes those who knew Ayanna will remember her smile.

“It was her fun and goofiness. She had an infectious smile, she was my daughter and I think she was a sister to just about every one of her friends,” he recalls.

Ayanna was a twin, her sister died 65 days after she was born. He says his only surviving daughter, who goes by “Sky,” has surprised him with her resilience after her sister’s passing.

“The Northwest High School principal calls me and says ‘tell [Sky] she doesn’t have to come in.’ She’s like, ‘no Dad, I’m going to school, I want to be smart like my sister.”

Ayanna had dreams of going to Virginia Tech and becoming a computer engineer. He says happy memories are helping him cope with the loss of his daughter.

“Just thinking of good memories, I remember going to the park and playing frisbee, all three of us. That was fun, I remember doing that,” he said.

“It’s part of the process, if I can get to that day where I don’t have to wake up screaming the first four minutes, realizing that she’s not there anymore, then I know that I’m on a road of healing.”

Ayanna’s family has organized a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of her funeral.

Her father says funeral and viewing services for Ayanna are public. The viewing is this Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Thibadeau Mortuary on E. Diamond Ave in Gaithersburg.

Her funeral is Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. Seneca Creek Community Church, located at 13 Firstfield Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878.

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