Vigil remembers victims, raises awareness of domestic violence

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stefan Rogenmoser/Gazette From left, Cynthia Jackson, Eric Bowen, Sh’Meeka Glover, Sondra Pennington, Nikki Conley and Mike Wilson hold candles and wear symbolic purple shirts to represent victims at the domestic violence awareness vigil.

Domestic violence victims remembered

The following victims who were killed in domestic violence incidents were remembered at the Oct. 10 Goose Creek candlelight vigil:Xiuying Wang, 61, Berkeley CountyMs. Wang was killed on July 27, 2012. Lester Chung, Ms. Wang’s husband, is accused of stabbing her at their Goose Creek home. Shalesha Williams, 31, Berkeley CountyMrs. Williams was killed on Dec. 16, 2011. Mrs. Williams’ husband, Devaughn Williams, stabbed her multiple times in their home. Mrs. Williams’ sister witnessed the attack and went to a neighbor’s house to get help. The couple’s young children were present at the time of the incident. Mr. and Mrs. Williams were having marital problems and may have been trying to separate. Mr. Williams stabbed himself at the scene and later died. Mrs. Williams is survived by a son and daughter.Treva Benton, 36, Dorchester County Mrs. Benton was shot and killed on Oct. 30, 2010. Mrs. Benton was shot by her estranged husband, Randal Benton. Employees at a restaurant saw a male and female fighting in the parking lot outside. The employees witnessed Mr. Benton shoot his wife multiple times. He then threatened the employees before trying to escape. A jury found Mr. Benton guilty of murder in February 2012 and he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Mrs. Benton is survived by two sons.Amanda Black, 25, Charleston County (Lucy Forest’s daughter)Mrs. Black was killed on Sept. 8, 2011. Mrs. Black died from a stab wound to the neck inflicted by her husband, Chesley “C.J.” Black. Mr. Black stabbed her in front of their young children and then stayed in the house with her body another day before taking the children to Mrs. Black’s sister and fleeing Charleston. Mr. Black had a prior history of domestic violence and drug charges. He is currently serving a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter after pleading guilty in August, according to reports. Mrs. Black is survived by two daughters.Desma Doctor, 21, Charleston CountyMs. Doctor was killed on Dec. 30, 2011. Kevin Drayton, with whom Ms. Doctor had children, came to her home and shot her during an argument. He also shot and injured her mother when she tried to intervene. Mr. Drayton then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. The couple’s young children were present in the home and witnessed the shootings. Ms. Doctor is survived by a son and daughter.Eric Lee, 29, Charleston CountyMr. Lee was killed on Nov. 2, 2012. Whitlee Jones, Mr. Lee’s fiancée, is accused of stabbing him during an argument at their residence. Dara Watson, 30, Charleston County Ms. Watson was killed in February 2012. Ms. Watson went missing in early February and her body was found several weeks later. Her fiancé, David Hedrick, shot and killed her in their home and then buried her in the Francis Marion National Forest. After her death Mr. Hedrick sent text messages from her phone to her family and employer trying to make it look like she was still alive. Mr. Hedrick later committed suicide.

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In 2012 a Goose Creek woman was stabbed to death in a domestic violence incident. Earlier in October a Sangaree woman and her 8-year-old daughter were found dead in their home in what is believed to be a domestic violence incident.

These and similar stories are tragic and real. It is not known if these deaths could have been prevented, but it is known that South Carolina is the number one state in the nation for men who kill their female partners.

It is also known, perhaps not by all, that help is readily available.

On Oct. 10 about 15 people wore purple shirts as they and others attended Goose Creek’s first domestic violence vigil.

Members of the Goose Creek Fire Department, Goose Creek Police Department, Joint Base Charleston and other citizens attended.

Each person was given a candle as keynotes spoke of their stories and the help that’s available for victims.

“October is national domestic violence awareness month across the country,” GCPD Victim Advocate Levolia Rhodes said.

The goal is to honor the memory of victims of senseless violence, show support to family members and loved ones and promote awareness and prevention. “In 2012, 48 South Carolinians were killed by their partners,” Rhodes said. “We have to take a stand . . . you can speak out against violence when you confront it in everyday life.”

“I am so honored to be present at such an event as we honor domestic violence victims,” Joint Base Charleston Family Advocacy Outreach Manager Brenda Edmond said. “Our speaker was married to a man for 11 years, but she left because of domestic violence.”

As Edmonds introduced guest speaker Lucy Forest, she told the audience that Forest’s daughter, Amanda Black, was stabbed to death by her husband in a domestic violence incident.

“Some of us are survivors of a domestic violence relationship,” Forest said. “You have no idea what your being here means to these victims.”

Forest said she is grateful to the person who invented the digital camera because she has hundreds of photos of her daughter to remember her by. She said the horror of her 11-year abusive marriage does not compare to losing a daughter.

“My daughter was 25 years old when she was killed,” Forest said. “These people are somebody’s daughter, sister, mother . . .

“She danced, went to church, hated dresses.We were close. We were sometimes enemies. We were friends. We were always family.

“Becaseu of one act of senseless violence is why I’m here. There should be a domestic violence website like there is for sex offenders. We need to teach our children that hitting is wrong.

“Don’t let anyone tell you it’s your fault. There is help available.”

Forest said women are often killed after about six incidents of domestic violence by their partner.

The names of some local domestic violence victims whose stories ended in the ultimate tragedy were called out as attendees in purple shirts stepped forward with lit candles and stood in place to honor them.

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