GREENWOOD — The family of a teenager killed over the weekend in a hit-and-run crash in Paris is pleading with the person responsible for his death to come forward and take responsibility.

Xavier Fuentes, 16, was walking on Route 117 when he was struck by a vehicle Saturday night.

His mother, Sheila Cole, addressed the driver of that vehicle Wednesday.

“You’ve got to come forward,” she said. “You have to do it, not just for our family’s sake, but for the sake of yourself, for your own family and loved ones. You need to come forward and confess to this and own it and say you’re sorry. I want an apology. I want our questions answered.”

Investigators from the Paris Police Department continue to pursue leads in the case and have identified two persons of interest but are not limiting their efforts, Detective Sgt. Jeff Lange said.

But every day that passes without having their questions answered adds to the mental and emotional toll being inflicted on Cole and her family.

“I don’t believe it was an intentional act,” Cole said. “I believe it was an accident, a very tragic and horrible accident, but they’re making it worse by not coming forward.”

In an interview at her Greenwood home Wednesday afternoon, Cole projected strength and resilience, but the death of her son has been devastating for the family, she said.

“We are all trying to stay as strong and as positive as we can be under the circumstances,” she said.

In the days since Fuentes was killed, it sometimes has been difficult for her to get out of bed in the morning, Cole said. She has barely left the house. She sometimes retreats to her bedroom and lets her grief overtake her, she said.

“It’s not so much that I cry that he’s dead,” she said. “It’s that I’m never going to hear his voice again. I’m never going to see his smiling face again. I’m never going to be able to give him hell again when he’s done something wrong.”

Xavier loved food, playing video games with his friends and going to movies, Cole said. He could have a sarcastic sense of humor, but he had a true sense of empathy and wanted people to get along.

“He was very intelligent and mature,” said Talisha Lara, Xavier’s older sister. “Even though he was being funny, you could tell that he was very, very smart.”

On the night he was killed, Fuentes had gone to the Flagship Cinemas in Oxford with his grandmother, aunt and cousins around 6 p.m. Saturday evening. He intended to see “300: Rise of an Empire,” but he left by himself after having an argument with his grandmother, Cole said.

“My son was the type of person who, if he didn’t want to listen to it, he’d turn around and walk away, and that’s exactly what he did,” Cole said.

Fuentes’s body was found by a passing motorist around 8:30 p.m. near the Brett Hill Road intersection on Route 117, about 4 miles from the movie theater. Cole said he was headed back to Turner, where he was staying with his grandmother, Janice Moore. It probably took him between an hour and an hour and a half to walk that far, she said.

Fuentes spent a semester at Telstar High School in Bethel, and was headed back to Leavitt Area High School in Turner. He was supposed to restart classes on Monday.

When his family discovered he was missing from the theater, they tried to contact him on his cellphone, with no result. His sister, Audra Mills, who works at the theater, finally called the Oxford Police Department to make a missing person’s report.

Not long afterward, Cole said she received a call from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office with the news that her son’s body had been found.

Despite the investigation and intense media coverage of the tragedy, Cole and her family have been left with questions that can only be answered by the person responsible.

“We would like to be able to have a name and a face and maybe the opportunity to ask this person these questions so we can understand as well what the last moments of my son’s life were like,” she said.

The support from within Oxford Hills, as well as from the broader community, has been overwhelming, Cole said. Her family has set up an Xavier Fuentes Memorial Fund through Norway Savings Bank in response to the surge of donation offers that have come via Facebook.

Police have been receiving dozens of tips and are asking local mechanics to report anything suspicious. Anyone with information or possible leads is asked to call the Paris Police Department at 207-743-7448 or email [email protected]

[email protected]

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