'Mama, I'm going to die': Mother shares domestic violence story

Posted May 13, 2013
Updated May 14, 2013

— “Mama, I’m going to die tonight.” Those were the last words Christie Adams heard her 3-year-old son Jesse say before her estranged husband shot the boy and then turned the gun on himself on July 13, 2012.

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Listening helplessly on the phone as her son cried, Adams told Jesse she loved him before hearing a gunshot. She called 911 and rushed to her estranged husband’s home on Wiley Gaskins Road in Grifton, hoping her son might still be alive.

“How do you know he has a gun to your son’s head?” the 911 dispatcher asked.

“He said that my son is already dead and he’s getting ready to send me a picture. He made my son tell me that he was going to die,” Adams told the dispatcher.

Barely able to breathe, Christie Adams sat outside and waited while authorities searched Carey "C.J." Adams’ home.

“I was hyperventilating,” she said. “I was sitting there hoping and praying that the deputy was going to bring my baby out to me, but it didn’t happen … My whole world ended right then.”

Christie Adams: 'He grabbed me, choked me'

The murder-suicide of C.J. Adams, 34, and his son shocked the small Pitt County community and left investigators traumatized and determined to stop similar violence in the future.

After Jesse’s death, the sheriff’s office applied for and received a federal grant that gives the agency up to $800,000 over the next four years to help prevent domestic violence murders. The money will fund:

  • Two investigators to work on domestic violence cases full time
  • An advocate at the Family Violence Center who will work with victims
  • A researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who can help compile data about domestic violence murders and look for common issues between the cases.

About 54 percent of Pitt County’s murders from 2008 to 2011 were the result of domestic violence – compared with 22 percent statewide – according to the sheriff’s office, and C.J. Adams’ case was no different. Investigators say he was motivated by an ongoing domestic dispute with Jesse’s mother.

“He would always tell me I’m too fat, I’m ugly, I’m stupid,” Christie Adams recalled, saying she tolerated the emotional abuse because C.J. Adams made her believe she was lucky to be with him.

Jesse Adams Mother shares domestic violence story

When the emotional abuse turned physical, she took out a restraining order against him.

“He grabbed me, choked me and he beat my head up against a microwave and a furnace,” Christie Adams said. “I constantly walked on eggshells.”

The couple separated four months before the shooting. While she feared for her own safety, Christie Adams says she “never at all” thought her estranged husband would harm their son.

Neighbors told WNCT News last year that C.J. Adams appeared to be a good dad, who often played with his son in the front yard, but investigators saw a very different picture of the father and son.

"It's just very sad what we've had to witness," Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks told WRAL News the day of the shootings. "Several of our officers are very emotionally upset. I had to send two of them home tonight from what they saw."

C.J. Adams' aunt, Cathy Potter, says both sides of the family are hurting. “We grieve, too," she said. "It's a loss on both sides. It’s a no-win situation. It’s over.”

Domestic violence cases predictable, preventable

Domestic violence murders are predictable and preventable, according to Pitt County sheriff’s detective John Guard, who says about 75 percent of victims are killed after leaving or while in the process of leaving their abusers.

“It is not about the pushing, the shoving, the kicking and the punching. It is all about power and control,” he said. “Absolutely the most dangerous time is when (victims) leave. It's when that offender loses that control that violence sometimes increases in severity and frequency.”

The best way to target the cases, Guard says, is to prevent witness intimidation and to enforce restraining orders early on.

“What I'm hoping for personally, and what we wrote into the grant application, is to find common themes between the homicides, those red flags that we can share with others,” he said. “We're going to target these cases early on.”

Christie Adams says she hopes the grant will save people from her fate.

“There are so many women out there who are right now in my shoes, the shoes I wore a year ago, trying to get out but not knowing where to turn,” she said. “All we can do is try. We can push to prevent it, push to let people know what the consequences are.”

Christie Adams says she is healing herself by helping others. She now volunteers at the Center for Family Violence Prevention in Greenville, the same organization that helped her.

“I promised Jesse he was not going to die in vain, and I’m not going to let that happen,” she said.

Despite losing her son to domestic violence, Christie Adams is grateful she was able to give her son one final message over the phone before he was murdered.

“I got lucky enough to tell him that I loved him and that it was going to be OK,” she said.

Replay: Detective, victim advocate answer your domestic violence questions


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  • Jack Flash May 15, 2013

    "jackflash123- Grow up. I am just trying to make sure that folks understand that Domestic Violence is NOT just against women. Think of it as a PSA. And this store, the Mother wants us to understand about DV."

    u mad? lol

    You keep repeating the same point, and I keep saying I understand that point. MY point is that your point doesn't belong here... which you still seem to think means I don't understand your point.

  • tammyburt2156 May 14, 2013

    I have read these comments and can not understand why so many of you judge before you know the entire story.There was a order in place between the mother and father for visitations with Jesse, and as far as the gun goes he took that from another home without the knowledge of the owner.Yes people are charmed and then the real person comes out after the I do's or moving in with the person. This story is about helping others to realize that there is still caring people in this world that are willing to help someone and to please ask for help.Drama has nothing to do with a person who is scared and has been threatened of will happen if they leave.I will never get to see my grandson grow up all I have left are memories. We will continue to get the word out to women and men that there is help and caring people that will see them threw the hurt and pain from DV.

  • Jack Flash May 14, 2013

    "jackflash123- to be honest, this story is about DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, plain and simple. It does NOT matter who is the offender, but many times, the men NEVER have a story like this written, because they are ashamed. Sorry if you do not like us to talk about it here, but DOMESTIC VIOLENCE happens to BOTH!"

    Like I said, I KNOW it happens to both genders sometimes. And you're right that this is about domestic violence first and foremost. To wedge in information unrelated to this case, though, as if it is negligent to not mention male victims of domestic violence in a domestic violence piece w/ a female and child victim is just... weird. It smacks of a "male privilege" agenda, too, wherein no one else is allowed to be the center of attention w/o it being seen as a slight to males.

  • JennyB May 14, 2013

    The headline of this story rips at my heart strings.

  • SportsLover75 May 14, 2013

    Wish I wouldn't have read this story. My heart is breaking as I am the mother to a 3 year old little boy. I can not imagine getting this phone call or what fear this child was going through knowing there was nothing he could do. What a monster that man must have been.

  • Wake1 May 14, 2013

    I don't know if I've ever read a story that hit me as hard as this one! What I'm sure we all would have done to save that boy! I'm impressed that the mother is doing something positive as a result - I'm sure though, that nothing can take away the pain she must be feeling.

  • CraftyMo May 14, 2013

    It's a terrible shame that this poor innocent child was used as a weapon to hurt his mother one last time. Domestic Violence is not as easy to escape as some would think. I was brought up in a terrible abusive household - mentally, emotionally and sexually abused for years. My mother was afraid to leave as he threatened to kill all of us (6 children) making her watch and then he would kill her. Finally after many years of pleading I was able to talk my Mom into relocating out of state. It has taken years and will continue to take time to sort through it all with my counselor. I pray for Christie and her family to find a way to work through this together. Such a terrible shame for all families involved.

  • my2cents-justsaying May 14, 2013

    And for those thinking that victims of abuse are only weak women, who depend on the man for financial support, or who aren't tough, or who tolerate disrespect--- I am a strong woman, who was the breadwinner, who puts up with ZERO bs from ANYONE. It happens to the strong, the independent, the smart, the tough. It is not about your strength-- its about your desire to love and be loved! It is the ones with the warmest heart that get hurt! Fortunately, I was strong enough to get out, but not before I endured serious abuse. I was strong enough to press charges, and my abuser went to prison. But, that strength helped me after I was abused, but it didn't help prevent it!

  • JAT May 14, 2013

    terkel - this quote was from a services person saying that even after this man KILLED her son, the woman/mother didn't want everyone to believe he was the worst person.... What does she care what WE think? He's a felon, abuser, murderer. That makes him an awful person. But she has to do something to try to make herself look better, at least in her own eyes. "I wouldn't have married him otherwise" =- HELLO!! he already had 2 restraining orders from women and a sheetful of charges/convictions before the 2 of them even met. What in all that wasn't warning enough to STAY AWAY from him?

  • JAT May 14, 2013

    jackflash - she's responsible for her kid. if she was willing to let an abusive, dangerous felon take her child, then, yes, she's partially responsible for not protecting him.