Local News

Woman Found Dead In Chapel Hill Apartment

Posted April 7, 2006

— A young woman was murdered in her own home, allegedly by her boyfriend, in the 12th domestic murder in North Carolina this year. Ironically, the victim's mother has worked tirelesssly against domestic violence.

A neighbor said that Keara Hart was on the phone with her mother Wednesday night. Her mother got another call and put Hart on hold. When she clicked back, Hart was gone.

On Thursday morning, Hart didn't show up at work. On Thursday evening, police say a relative called them and Hart was found dead on her kitchen floor.

University Gardens Apartments in Chapel Hill were quiet Friday morning -- just like they were when Sandy Botelho went to bed Wednesday night. She lives in the apartment under Keara Hart's. She says she heard some scuffling Wednesday night, and thought about calling the police, but decided she didn't need to. After a little while, she says the apartment went silent.

"It didn't sound as bad as it turned out," said Botelho. "If I'd thought it was any more than that, I definitely would've called and had them over sooner. I don't like it."

Police arrested Hart's boyfriend Domego Lee early Friday morning in Durham and charged him with first-degree murder. Court records show he was arrested for assaulting her with a deadly weapon last October.

"After all these years of working so hard, to lose her own daughter to domestic violence is just a tragedy that goes beyond measure," said Kit Gruelle, who worked with Hart's mother at Chatham County's domestic violence shelter.

The horrible irony just proves what Gruelle and Hart's mother have preached for years -- domestic violence affects everyone, even those dedicated to fighting it.

"The sad truth is that people brush it aside until they're personally affected; they fail to understand how heartbreaking this is," said Gruelle.

Gruelle said the Hart's family wants her case to be a wake-up call for the rest of us to take notice of people who might be in abusive relationships.

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