TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The phone kept ringing, eventually going to voicemail. A sinking feeling returned to Theo Brickhouse-Sail’s stomach.

“The phone went to voicemail,” Brickhouse-Sail recalled. “And nobody answered. And just kept going to voicemail, and my gut told me something was wrong.”

As soon as she got her lunch break, she drove over to St. Petersburg and knocked on her great-niece’s door. No answer. There was a trail of blood leading from the door to the car outside.

Inside, Pashun Jeffery was dead, with more than 100 stab wounds. Police would later call it a “violent homicide scene.” Taylen Mosley, Jeffery’s son, was gone. The two shared a bond that only a mom can have with her son.

“I would have never, in a million years, when this week started, ever thought that something like this would happen,” Brickhouse-Sails said, her voice cracking. “We were supposed to have taken Taylen Saturday.”

After a days-long manhunt, the toddler would eventually be found in the jaws of an alligator in Lake Maggiore, across town from Jeffery’s apartment. A bloody fingerprint on a cleaning bottle and a bloody Gucci shoeprint at the crime scene were linked to Thomas Mosley, Taylen’s father.

Mosley has been charged with both Taylen and Pashun’s murders and is in the Pinellas County Jail. He pled not guilty.

“I want people to remember them as two kids who absolutely loved each other,” said Brickhouse-Sails in her first interview since Taylen was found. “Adjusting without them in life is going to be hard.”

Court documents didn’t say exactly how Taylen died, just that him being placed or thrown in the lake led to his death.

“I worried about them suffering,” Brickhouse-Sails said. “That’s my biggest worry, was that how they suffered. And when I close my eyes at night, that’s all I see, was the suffering of both of them. And I pray to God that they didn’t suffer long.”

Taylen’s family is trying to move forward now, and appreciate all the love from people they’ve never met.

“I feel like the community has wrapped their arms around us,” Brickhouse-Sails said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

She said the family is going to a funeral home on Monday to make arrangements. There is a GoFundMe for the family, you can learn more and donate here.