FALLEN CLASSMATE HONORED

Colin Denver / Valencia Voice

By Colin Dever
[email protected]

Janet Bryan was driving home from school on Jan. 27 when she received a phone call from another student that a tragedy had occurred. Hours before, officers of the Orlando police department had forced their way into a room checked out to James Clayton and Loyta Sloley to find both guests dead from gunshot wounds in what would be called a murder-suicide. Bryan rushed home as the reports of the incident were being broadcast on the local news. On the television screen she saw a face that she had seen many times before. Sloley, a friend, and former classmate was dead.

As president of the Black high achievers club since 2006, Bryan met Sloley through the volunteer work and an intensive Spanish class they had taken together.

“Intensive Spanish is a nine credit class covering Spanish I through III. The students must work together to pass and as a result can become very close,” said Victor Collazo, Student Development Coordinator.

Sloley, a very friendly and upbeat person was recognized last semester for her academic achievements by the Black high achievers club and was soon to be inducted at the organizations next induction ceremony according to Bryan. The last time Bryan spoke to Sloley was Inauguration Day. Bryan was in Washington D.C. and called to share in the celebration of the historic event only one week before the events that would unfold at the Marriott Courtyard Orlando on 730 N. Magnolia.

Bryan had not seen any warning signs of the oncoming tragedy. Clayton — who abducted Sloley, his current girlfriend — had sixteen prior felony arrests with three convictions including a murder conviction in 1989.

After her death Bryan organized a memorial to honor her friend’s memory. “She was someone who was going someplace,” said Bryan and it was Sloley’s character that she chose to honor and remember. Bryan picked a poem to read at the memorial: “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.“The poem exemplified her,” said Ms. Bryan. The poem talks of a funeral of a friend, and the dates on the tombstone are the birth and death separated by a dash. It reads “For that dash represents all the time she spent alive on earth… and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.”