As the investigation into the March killing of Cassandra Pizzi continues in Virginia, the people left behind by the 33-year-old mother's death are now grieving a second relative: the murdered woman's mother.
Pizzi's cousin Ryan Reilly tells PEOPLE that Rizzi's distraught 53-year-old mother, Patricia Jefferson, died by suicide on May 1 — a little over a month after her daughter's body was discovered in a wooded area of Roanoke.
Reilly says the pain of Cassandra's murder ended up being more than Patricia could bear.
"She committed suicide over the loss of her daughter," Reilly says.
Police in Roanoke continue to look into Pizzi's slaying. While they have not disclosed exactly how she died, they have characterized the killing as a "crime of passion," meaning it wasn't premeditated.
Investigators have revealed her body was partially nude and that she had blood on her head and face.
Surveillance footage recovered not far from where her remains were found shows two people walking.
Reilly tells PEOPLE he feels that Pizzi's case has fallen by the wayside in the age of coronavirus, and says he wants to keep raising awareness about the murder in the hopes it will lead to an arrest.
Pizzi, who was the mother of a 12-year-old boy, had "a smile that lights up any room she walks into," says Reilly, who has launched an online petition asking that city officials illuminate the Roanoke Star, located on Mill Mountain, in purple this October 3, which would have been his cousin's 34th birthday.
Pizzi's middle name was Starr, Reilly explains.
Lighting the star for his cousin would help keep her memory alive, he says. Additionally, it would remind "those responsible she isn't forgotten and her memory will always shine bright and forever live on in the hearts and minds of her friends, family, and her community," says Reilly.
He has also created a GoFundMe campaign to raise reward money for information leading to his cousin's killer.
Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea and City Manager Bob Cowell did not respond to PEOPLE's requests seeking comment on Reilly's initiative.
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Roanoke authorities ask that anyone who has any information about Pizzi’s murder call them at (540) 344-8500.
Tips can also be texted to 274637; all texts should begin with "RoanokePD."
Those who provide information can do so anonymously.
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