MIAMI (CBSMiami) — On Friday, the former assistant Principal of Norland Senior High School was arrested and charged with the murder of teacher Kameela Russell.
Roberts, 39, is the Godfather of Russell’s’ two children, according to investigators. They had known each other since they were children and worked for years at Norland Senior High School until Roberts was transferred in February, records show.
“I understand the emotions because it’s very difficult to understand how someone could hurt someone like that,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert during a Friday afternoon news conference. “It’s very difficult to understand that.”
When Russell went missing on May 15 and was later found in a canal 10 days later, the community mourned deeply.
“You may remember that Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens communities were torn apart by the disappearance and death of a beautiful young woman, who was a teacher, a mother, a daughter,” said State Attorney Katherine Rundle.
“It’s not just that someone lost their daughter or their niece or their mother or their friend or their teacher, it’s not just them that’s hurting, it’s the community that’s hurting,” said Gilbert. “I knew Kameela.”
Gilbert said he visits all the schools in Miami Gardens, but as a graduate of Norland High, he felt this loss personally too.
“She was the sweetest spirit,” said Gilbert. “I took that long walk down the hallway and go to her office, it doesn’t matter what she was doing, she always greeted you with a smile.”
Russell was a beloved teacher and test administrator. Gilbert described her as the person who would always be at the football games on Friday and the end of the year parties.
“She’d make the jello shots. I don’t know if you knew that, Mom,” joked Gilbert to her mother standing behind him at the news conference.
Gilbert described Russell as a relentlessly sweet person.
“She had a very unique spirit. Not everybody’s the same. Her spirit was that she just welcomed you in,” said Gerber. “You felt liked, whether she liked you, you just felt liked by her. It’s easy to understand how kids gravitated toward her because people gravitated toward her.”
In a statement released by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Roberts has been removed from his job and officials are moving to permanently fire him.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools is appalled and saddened after learning of today’s arrest in connection to the death of Kameela Russell. Miami-Dade Schools Police has provided any and all assistance requested by the Miami Gardens Police Department in their investigation. Based on preliminary information we received, the District took precautionary measures while the case was being investigated and immediately removed the individual from duty. Following his arrest, the District has initiated the employment termination process. Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with Ms. Russell’s family.”
Police are still investigating a motive, but did confirm at the press conference that based off medical records, Russell was not pregnant.