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Victims of Domestic Violence Honored at 13th Annual Silent Witness Ceremony at the State House

5:30 PM, Oct 5, 2010   |    comments
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  • The 13th Annual Silent Witness Ceremony was held at the State House on Oct. 5, 2010.
  • Azell "Angie" Barton's daughters appeared at the 13th Annual Silent Witness Ceremony to take time to remember their mother.
    

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The sun was certainly shining Tuesday and maybe even more brightly at the State House, where 33 fatal victims of domestic violence were remembered by friends and family for the 13th Annual Silent Witness Ceremony.

"Domestic violence is a secret that you do not keep," State Attorney General Henry McMaster said during the morning gathering.

The Barton sisters lost their mother Azell "Angie" Barton last year, shot to death by her boyfriend.

"I just never thought that he could be so mean, angry, deceitful to take a life," Shaquetta Barton-Davis said.

"My mom was there for me, and my sisters, and now, we don't even have our mom no more," her sister said in May 2009. The daughters honored their mother during the ceremony.

"She could have been sitting in the audience with us, but he took it upon himself to take a life, and now, we have to celebrate her life through a silhouette," Barton-Davis explained.  It's a celebration that will never stop.

"We miss her smile, because she was always smiling. We miss her laugh, because she was always laughing. We miss her dedication, her guidance as a woman, how to raise three phenomenal women. We miss all of that, and we just miss our angel," Barton-Davis said. 

McMaster read out a roll call with the 33 fatal domestic violence victims.

2010 SILENT WITNESS ROLL CALL

Barnwell County

Denise Jonican (37 years old) Mrs. Jonican was killed on December 8, 2009 due to blunt force trauma sustained in a beating. Police reports indicate that her husband, Samuel Jonican, beat Mrs. Jonican to death in her home. According to family members, the couple had a history of problems and had argued the night before Mrs. Jonican's death. Mr. Jonican pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Mrs. Jonican is survived by two daughters and a son.

Beaufort County

Connie McDermott (48 years old) Ms. McDermott was stabbed and killed on February 24, 2009. According to a witness, the night before Ms. McDermott's death she and her boyfriend, Steven Abraham, got into an argument. The next day Mr. Abraham confessed to police that he stabbed Ms. McDermott after their argument turned into a physical altercation. He then instructed them as to where to find her body. Mr. Abraham pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ms. McDermott is survived by a daughter.

Jeanine Mullen (34 years old) Ms. Mullen was shot and killed on November 15, 2009. Ms. Mullen was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head by her boyfriend, Earnest Daise. Witnesses established that Ms. Mullen and Mr. Daise had been in an argument the day of her death. Ms. Mullen's four-year-old son was also killed by a single gunshot wound to the head and her two-year-old son was wounded. Police reports indicate that the family had just celebrated the four-year-old's birthday that day. Mr. Daise has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of assault and battery with intent to kill. He is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Mullen is survived by three sons.

Berkeley County

Shantay Harris (32 years old) Mrs. Harris was shot and killed on August 19, 2009. Mrs. Harris was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head by her husband, Tito Harris. According to witnesses Mr. Harris went to the family residence early that morning and woke Mrs. Harris and their son. Their argument escalated until Mr. Harris shot Mrs. Harris. The couple was separated at the time, and there was a history of abuse in the family. Mr. Harris has been charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Harris is survived by two sons.

Calhoun County

Azell Barton (37 years old) Ms. Barton was shot and killed on May 20, 2009. Ms. Barton was shot multiple times by her boyfriend, Thomas Taylor. Mr. Taylor pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Ms. Barton is survived by a daughter.

Charleston County

Mary Hammer (59 years old) Ms. Hammer was stabbed to death on April 13, 2009. Police reports indicate that Ms. Hammer died as a result of stab wounds inflicted by her boyfriend, Edmund Marciniak. Mr. Marciniak has been charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Hammer is survived by a daughter.

Dorchester County

Katrina Johnson (24 years old) Ms. Johnson was shot and killed on March 15, 2009. According to reports Ms. Johnson and her boyfriend, Marcus Trappier, were in an argument when he shot her multiple times. Afterwards a relative confronted Mr. Trappier. He then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Ms. Johnson is survived by a son and a daughter.

Florence County

Laura B. Creel (48 years old) Ms. Creel was discovered shot and killed on October 12, 2009. Ms. Creel died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head from her boyfriend, Roger Bruce. Reports indicate a family member requested a welfare check on Ms. Creel because she had not been heard from in several days. Officers were dispatched to the apartment she shared with Mr. Bruce. After searching the apartment, officers discovered her body in the trunk of her car. Mr. Bruce is charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Creel is survived by two sons.

Greenville County

Jacqueline Alexander (47 years old) Ms. Alexander was stabbed to death in early June of 2009. Police reports indicate that Ms. Alexander died as the result of multiple stab wounds inflicted by her boyfriend, Ralph Hayes. After several days of not being able to contact Ms. Alexander, a family member went to her home to check on her and discovered her body. A warrant for Mr. Hayes' arrest has been issued but he is still at large. Ms. Alexander is survived by a son.

Shivani Boparai (32 years old) Mrs. Boparai was stabbed to death on January 21, 2009. Police reports indicate that Mrs. Boparai's husband, Harvinder Singh, stabbed his wife in their home multiple times. According to family members, Mr. Singh had a history of drinking and the couple argued frequently. Their young son was in the home at the time of the murder and found his mother in the bathroom with severe wounds from the knife attack. Mrs. Boparai's brother, whom she had called to come and get her to leave the home, arrived at the residence and called the police. Mr. Singh is charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Boparai is survived by her son.

Lisa Creta (46 years old) Mrs. Creta was shot and killed on December 5, 2009. Mrs. Creta was killed as the result of gunshot wounds to the head from her husband, Robert Creta, Jr. Reports indicate that Mr. Creta killed his wife and their dog and set the house on fire before killing himself. The bodies of Mrs. Creta and her husband were found by firefighters in their home. A confession to the murder and arson by her husband was found on the garage wall.

Melinda Pemberton (57 years old) Ms. Pemberton died on October 15, 2009 as the result of complications from injuries suffered from an earlier beating. Ms. Pemberton's boyfriend, Bradford Dunn, beat her on August 25, 2009 after an argument outside of a store. The argument turned physical and he shoved her to the ground with enough force to break her leg. She called the police and was taken to the hospital to have her injuries treated. Ms. Pemberton later died from complications. Mr. Dunn is charged with murder and is awaiting trial. Ms. Pemberton is survived by a daughter.

Karen Rojas (48 years old) Ms. Rojas was shot and killed on May 17, 2009. Ms. Rojas died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head from her boyfriend, Wallace Evatt. Witnesses report that the two returned home late one evening and began arguing as they went inside. A few minutes later neighbors heard shots coming from the house. Mr. Evatt left the residence and called the police, stating that Ms. Rojas had shot herself. Mr. Evatt's statements were found to be inconsistent with the evidence, and he was charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

Beverly Thompson (58 years old) Mrs. Thompson was shot and killed on September 17, 2009. According to reports, Mrs. Thompson was shot by her estranged husband, Ralph Thompson. Police received a telephone call from Mr. Thompson confessing to having just killed his wife. Mr. Thompson then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Mrs. Thompson is survived by a daughter.

Greenwood County

Calvin Drennon (31 years old) Mr. Drennon was shot and killed on January 22, 2009. Mr. Drennon was killed by his girlfriend, Yendia Parks. He suffered a gunshot wound to the head before Ms. Parks turned the gun on herself. Their bodies were discovered by friends who went to check on the couple since they had been unable to reach them by phone. Mr. Drennon is survived by a son.

Dietra Elmore (28 years old) Mrs. Elmore was shot and killed on April 12, 2009. Mrs. Elmore was killed by a gunshot wound to the head by her husband, Jimmy Elmore. Witnesses report that a man and woman were screaming in the parking lot outside of Mrs. Elmore's place of work. Mr. Elmore took his wife at gunpoint from her workplace, shot her, and hit her with his car. Her body was found a few blocks from her work. Over the next few days the police began investigating Mrs. Elmore's death and looking for Mr. Elmore. The search ended on April 16th when police discovered Mr. Elmore had committed suicide. Mrs. Elmore is survived by a daughter.

Hampton County

Heather Croom (26 years old) Mrs. Croom was strangled to death on March 15, 2009. Mrs. Croom died as the result of strangulation by her husband, Charles Croom. A hunter found the body of Mrs. Croom in a ditch near the woods. The police were notified and when they interviewed Mr. Croom, he waived his rights and confessed to murdering his wife and disposing of her body. Mr. Croom pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is serving a sentence of 25 years. Mrs. Croom is survived by three sons.

Horry County

Hannah Lawhon (30 years old) Mrs. Lawhon was shot to death on January 3, 2009. Mrs. Lawhon died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head by her husband, Richard Lawhon. Mr. Lawhon's father found the couple's bodies in their home and called the police. They determined that Mr. Lawhon shot his wife and then turned his gun on himself.

Jasper County

Vikki Pope (45 years old) Ms. Pope was beaten to death on August 7, 2009. Ms. Pope died as the result of multiple blows with a blunt object by her boyfriend, Terry Swanger. When Ms. Pope failed to report to work one of her co-workers called the police and asked that they check her residence. Friends indicated that Ms. Pope had been trying to leave Mr. Swanger due to his abusive behavior. Mr. Swanger was arrested and charged with murder. He is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Pope is survived by a son.

Kershaw County

Kisha Frierson (40 years old) Mrs. Frierson was strangled to death on October 15, 2009. Mrs. Frierson died as the result of strangulation by her husband, Tyrone Frierson. Reports indicate that a 911 call was placed from the home asking for help. The police were met at the door by Mrs. Frierson's son, who directed them to the master bedroom. Upon examining the area the officers began to suspect foul play and Mr. Frierson was taken into custody. He has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial. Mrs. Frierson is survived by a daughter and son.

Laurens County

Ernestine Brown (58 years old) Ms. Brown was shot to death on December 10, 2009. Ms. Brown suffered a gunshot wound to the head by her boyfriend, Fred Madden Jr. Reports indicate that Mr. Madden had been harassing Ms. Brown since being asked to leave their shared residence several weeks prior. Ms. Brown's brother was sent to the house after she called her sister saying that she feared Mr. Madden was going to kill her. Ms. Brown was found unconscious and bleeding in her bedroom. She passed away shortly after emergency personnel arrived. Mr. Madden was arrested and charged with murder, and he is awaiting trial. Ms. Brown is survived by a daughter.

Amanda Chapman (31 years old) Mrs. Chapman was shot and killed on November 29, 2009. Mrs. Chapman's husband, Gentry Chapman, shot her and her 17-year-old son in the head. Authorities learned of the crime when Mr. Chapman called 911 and stated that he had killed his wife and stepson and was driving to the station to turn himself in. He took Mrs. Chapman's other two children to the station so they could be transferred to the care of her family. Mr. Chapman was charged with two counts of murder and is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Chapman is survived by two children.

Lexington County

Lisa Bacon (30 years old) Ms. Bacon was shot and killed on August 23, 2009. Ms. Bacon died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head by her boyfriend, Jason Strickland. According to police reports a witness called 911 to report an erratic driver on I-20. Mr. Strickland evaded police and stopped at the Riverbanks Zoo parking lot. He then fled from his vehicle to the Saluda River and fatally shot himself in the chest after claiming that the death of his girlfriend was an accident. Her body were discovered in the back of his vehicle wrapped in a sheet. Police determined that she was killed in the couple's shared residence. Ms. Bacon is survived by a son.

Michelle Rice (25 years old) Mrs. Rice was stabbed to death on February 7, 2009. Mrs. Rice was stabbed multiple times by her husband, James Rice, Jr. According to reports, the couple had been arguing on a Friday night and Mrs. Rice decided to leave the residence they shared. Upon returning home at the end of the weekend the couple went to their bedroom to talk. Mrs. Rice's aunt, the owner of the home, heard screaming and ran into the room to find Mr. Rice on top of Mrs. Rice stabbing her. A call was made to 911 and Mrs. Rice's aunt attempted to aid her niece. Mrs. Rice passed away before the arrival of EMS. Mr. Rice began stabbing himself in the neck and was transported to the hospital, where he later died.

Brenda Shealy (60 years old) Mrs. Shealy was shot to death on July 31, 2009. Mrs. Shealy suffered gunshot wounds to the head by her husband, James Shealy. A friend of Mr. Shealy called the police and said that Mr. Shealy had called and confessed shooting his wife to him. When the police arrived at the Shealys' home they found the body of Mrs. Shealy in the kitchen. Mr. Shealy was arrested and charged with murder. While awaiting trial Mr. Shealy committed suicide. Mrs. Shealy is survived by a son.

Marlboro County

Debra Henderson (36 years old) Mrs. Henderson was shot and killed on August 12, 2009. Mrs. Henderson died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head by her husband, Bobby Henderson, Jr. Reports indicate that a 911 dispatcher received a frantic call from someone saying that their father was shooting their mother. Officers arrived at the home and discovered that the couple was deceased, both having suffered gunshot wounds to the head. Mr. Henderson had forced his wife out of her car and into the home, where he held her against her will before shooting her and then himself. Mrs. Henderson is survived by two daughters and two sons.

Scott Massom (40 years old) Mr. Massom was shot and killed on April 4, 2009. According to investigators, Mr. Massom was killed by his brother-in-law, Jamie Head. Mr. Massom's wife, Helen Massom, worked with Mr. Head to make the scene look like a robbery that had gone bad. Mr. Head was charged with murder. Mrs. Massom was charged with accessory after the fact, giving false information to law enforcement, and obstruction of justice. They are both awaiting trial.

Brandy Simmons (33 years old) Mrs. Simmons was beaten to death on July 26, 2009. Mrs. Simmons was killed by her husband, Vander Simmons, Jr. The couple had been arguing when Mrs. Simmons decided to take her children and leave so they would not be exposed to the yelling. When they returned home the next night the arguing began again and escalated to violence. When Mrs. Simmons' daughter tried to step in and help her mother, Mr. Simmons hit her. Reports indicate that there was a history of abuse in the relationship. Mr. Simmons has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial. Mrs. Simmons is survived by a son and a daughter.

Oconee County

Karla Benson (29 years old) Ms. Benson was shot and killed on June 20, 2009. Ms. Benson died as the result of gunshot wounds to the head and shoulder by her ex-boyfriend, James Baskerville. Witnesses stated that Mr. Baskerville had invited Ms. Benson to his workplace to have a discussion. Ms. Benson had recently broken off the relationship after she became pregnant and was seeing someone else. Mr. Baskerville shot and killed her inside his workplace and then shot himself. Mr. Baskerville survived and pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Ms. Benson is survived by two sons.

Wendoli Chavez (21 years old) Mrs. Chavez was strangled to death on October 14, 2009. Mrs. Chavez was strangled and stabbed by her husband, David Chavez, in their home. The couple were separated at the time and Mrs. Chavez was returning to the family home to pick up her mail. Mr. Chavez grew angry while they were arguing when Mrs. Chavez refused to reconcile. He killed her and then called the police to confess. Mr. Chavez was arrested and charged with murder. He is currently awaiting trial.

Pickens County

Melissa Wylie (50 years old) Mrs. Wylie was shot and killed on February 13, 2009. Mrs. Wylie suffered a gunshot wound to the back by her husband, Clifford Wylie. Police reports indicate that Mr. Wylie shot his wife while their younger son was in the home with them. Mr. Wylie was tried for murder, unlawful conduct toward a child, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He was sentenced to life in prison. Mrs. Wylie is survived by two sons.

Richland County

Jessica Beard (24 years old) Ms. Beard was shot and killed on June 25, 2009. Ms. Beard died as the result of gunshot wounds to the head and arm by her estranged husband, Omar Gorden. Mr. Gorden went to Ms. Beard's home that she shared with family and shot her multiple times in the front yard. Mr. Gorden also shot Ms. Beard's mother. By the time emergency personnel arrived Ms. Beard had passed away from her injuries. Mr. Gorden fled to a relative's house, where he committed suicide.

York County

Sharon Gwinn (44 years old) Mrs. Gwinn was shot and killed on July 19, 2009. Mrs. Gwinn died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head by her husband, Gary Gwinn. Mrs. Gwinn had filed for divorce two months before her death. During the incident her son was also shot while trying to protect his mother. Mr. Gwinn called 911 to confess but turned his gun on himself and committed suicide before the police could arrive. Mrs. Gwinn is survived by her son.

South Carolina ranked 9th in 2009 for women killed by men known as their loved ones.

 

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