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Nestor Ramos

A picture of Jassy Correia, unfrozen in time

A Globe photographer captured this touching image of Jassy Correia playing with her daughter in June 2018.
A Globe photographer captured this touching image of Jassy Correia playing with her daughter in June 2018.(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File)

Jassy Correia was taking pictures of her daughter.

The little girl was 18 months old then, sitting in a field, picking clover flowers in the Franklin Park Playstead.

It was June 16, 2018. A Juneteenth event was just getting started, the holiday honoring the end of slavery, celebrating freedom from bondage. Cookouts, face-painting, that sort of thing.

The little girl stood up and walked slowly, haltingly, toward her mother, a clover flower in her outstretched right hand.

A photographer captured a few frames: a frozen moment, radiating warmth and love.

The photographer, John Tlumacki of the Globe, chatted with the woman after he took the picture. He showed her the image on the back of his camera and wrote down her name for publication. The spelling was a little unusual, and he had to ask twice to be sure:

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Jassy, with an A.

Tlumacki asked her how she’d made out with her own pictures of her daughter.

Not as good as yours, she laughed. He offered to e-mail her one that he’d taken, and she gladly accepted.

“You never know where your photos go, or what they mean to people,” Tlumacki said.

It didn’t occur to him that he’d see it again. Not like this.

It’s a stunning image. But the picture of Jassy Correia and her daughter doesn’t look the same anymore. It’s all loaded down now with what happened to her — no, what was done to her.

Correia’s body, police say, was found in the trunk of a man’s car in Delaware — the same man who was allegedly seen carrying her into his apartment building in Rhode Island, emerging later with two suitcases. The circumstances of her death remain unclear, but Louis D. Coleman III is accused of kidnapping Correia and mutilating her body.

Suddenly, it was as if that moment in June became somehow unfrozen, its meaning shifting even as each pixel stayed precisely the same.

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On Friday, the picture reemerged online and on television, shared by Correia’s family, who had saved and cherished the picture. It adorns a fund-raising website that quickly raised about $100,000 for a little girl who will remember her mother only from pictures. In a way, that girl will be forever suspended, clover pinched between tiny thumb and forefinger, walking toward a woman she will never quite reach.

A week ago the image was heartwarming. Today, it is devastating.

Instead of warmth, the picture now radiates a sort of dark heat. Instead of what’s called a feature photo — the sort of thing that enlivens the daily news report with a splash of color and beauty — it’s on the front page. Instead of a picture of pure joy and love, it’s also a picture of the enduring power of violence.

“It was one of those beautiful, warm June days,” Tlumacki remembered, and his picture captured that.

But that was a long time ago. To look at it now is to know one thing with absolute certainty: That day is gone forever.


Nestor Ramos can be reached at nestor.ramos@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.