Watch: Witness describes emergency response after Croydon stabbing
A 17-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of 15-year-old Elianne Andam, who was stabbed to death on her way to school in Croydon.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will appear at youth court, sitting at Croydon Magistrates’ Court, on Friday. He has also been charged with possession of a knife.
Elianne was wounded in the neck on Wellesley Road at about 08.30am on Wednesday. She died at the scene.
The teen's family visited the scene on Thursday evening as a vigil was held for her.
A large group of relatives, some embracing each other, could be seen next to a bus stop, inside the police cordon, as flowers were laid on the ground.
A statement read out by a church leader on behalf of the family said: "We as a family are struggling to comprehend this painful tragedy that has happened to our beautiful daughter and beloved sister Elianne. Our hearts are broken.
"And we are overwhelmed by sorrow and grief. Our faith in the Lord is strengthening us.
It added: "We would like to express our gratitude to those who have taken the time to send us thoughtful and compassionate messages and prayers.
"We kindly ask for your consideration to also respect our need for privacy as we attempt to come to grips with our deeply devastating loss.
"Elianne was a beautiful person inside and out who loved Jesus. She was intelligent, thoughtful, kind and had a bright future ahead. It is our request that you keep our cherished daughter Elianne and our family, in your thoughts and prayers."
Read more: Girl stabbed to death in Croydon school bus horror as police arrest teenager (The Independent)
Who was the victim?
The family of 15-year-old Elianne Andam previously paid tribute to their "bright and funny" daughter.
In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police, a spokesperson for her family said: "Our hearts are broken by the senseless death of our daughter. Elianne was the light of our lives. She was bright and funny, with many friends who all adored her."
Her family added in the statement: “She was only 15, and had her whole life ahead of her, with hopes and dreams for the future.
“All those dreams have now been shattered. Our lives have fallen apart, along with that of our wider family. We ask the media to please respect our privacy as we try to grieve the short life of our beautiful child.”
Tributes to victim
Dozens of bunches of flowers have been left at the scene of the teenager’s death amid widespread shock at the tragedy.
One of the cards left near to the scene of the attack read: “Sorry we live in this crazy world this makes no sense.
"Fly high up there my mummy will look after you. RIP beautiful, forever young, taken too soon.
“Thoughts and prayers are with your family and friends, God bless.”
On Thursday, police officers who were among the first at the scene and battled to try to save Elianne's life appeared visibly moved as they laid flowers in tribute.
Among the floral tributes, cards and candles, one message read: “Rest in peace little princess so sad your life is taken away at your prime. You have touched my soul.”
Elianne was a pupil at Old Palace of John Whitgift School, a private girls’ school in Croydon, which paid tribute to its “valued friend and pupil” and also saw well-wishers leaving flowers and tributes.
The school said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “deeply shocked by the senseless and tragic death of our much-loved and valued friend and pupil”.
The statement added: “It will take some time for the Old Palace community to come to terms with this terrible news, and we will offer support to our pupils as we try to do so.
“Above all, we send our love and deepest sympathies to the girl’s family at this unimaginably distressing time.”
Elianne’s friends were said to have been “sobbing” and “so emotional” at her school on Thursday, Donna Murray-Turner, chairwoman of the local Safer Neighbourhood Board, said after visiting the school, where she said messages in a book of condolence “talk about her laugh”.
She added: “Staff, teachers, talked about when she entered a room you knew she was there. And her friends, as you can imagine, were sobbing. They were so emotional.”
Murray-Turner added that a meeting will be held at Croydon Town Hall on Monday at 6pm, where the agenda will be about violence against women and girls.
Anthony King, chairman of My Ends, a project helping combat youth violence in Croydon, described Elianne as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and told of how others said she was “jovial, very comedic”.
London knife crime
On Friday, a man in his 30s was seriously injured in a stabbing that happened just half a mile from where schoolgirl Elianne Andam was killed, while at the beginning of the week another stabbing took place near Croydon College - none of the incidents are thought to be linked.
Met Police data showed there were 211 "knife crime with injury" offences in Croydon between August 2022 and 2023 - the most in any London borough.
When the data factored in population size, Croydon ranked 10th highest in the capital with 0.5 "knife crime with injury" offences per 1,000 people.
Chief Superintendent Brittain described the incident as "every parent's worst nightmare" and said he and his officers had been "devastated" by the victim's death.
Anthony King, chairman of My Ends – a project helping combat youth violence in Croydon – described Elianne as an “absolutely incredible young lady” and told of how others said she was “jovial, very comedic”.
He also said the arrested boy had been known to local community groups for the past couple of years.
Witnesses or anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting reference CAD 1601/27Sep. To remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online.
Man in his 30s seriously hurt after stabbing near East Croydon station (Evening Standard)