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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A school principal was killed Wednesday in an apparent homicide at a private school and a 17-year-old student was taken into custody, police said.

Officers said the body Suzette York, 48, was discovered by a teacher shortly after 11 a.m. at Memphis Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist Church-affiliated school in east Memphis.

Police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said the student was taken into custody at the school.

A motive and cause of death were not immediately disclosed.

Marvin Lowman, executive secretary with the Kentucky-Tennessee conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said York had been principal at the school since 2008.

Peter Hunter, who attended the school for seven years and now has a 6-year-old cousin in the school, said York was a caring, sweet woman who enjoyed teaching young people.

“She was a wonderful person who was very much involved with her students, a person who cared deeply about the development of her students,” he said. “This was not the way she was supposed to go.”

Classes at the one-story, red brick school began Monday. A sign out front Wednesday said, “Welcome back.” The school has a large back recreation area with a swing set and playground slide.

Tuition ranges from $223 to $840 a month. The school has classes for pre-kindergarten through high school.

“Our staff is committed to providing quality education in a Christian environment,” the school’s website says.

Hunter said York was a science and math teacher who had left the school, but returned to become an administrator.

“She came back here because she had a passion for the people,” he said.

Linda Taylor told The Commercial Appeal she received a call from her husband who said the school called and told them to pick up their 14-year-old son, Josiah, because there was an emergency. The school didn’t say that someone had been killed.

“I’m just wondering what’s going on,” she said at the scene.


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