CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Keara Hart was found dead in her Chapel Hill apartment last week, and her live-in boyfriend is accused of homicide in her death. On Thursday night, her family and friends came together for a candlelight vigil to turn their grief into action against domestic violence.
The small gathering in Chapel Hill shone a light on the issue of domestic violence. The candles and flowers honored the life of Hart, a mother of two.
"She was just a strong girl," said Hart's aunt, Marie Brown. "She loved her children, and she loved her family."
Court papers show a history of domestic violence incidents between Hart and her boyfriend, Damego Lee, including one last October. At that time, she had moved in with Shayna Hill and her family and appeared to be on the road to recovery.
"She loved everybody," said Hill. "Her fault was she loved people who hurt her, too."
For Hart's mother, Darien Russell, who spoke at the vigil, words sometimes did not come easy. For the last 20 years, Russell has dedicated her life to helping domestic violence victims in Chatham and Durham counties.
"Keara was a beautiful, beautiful person," said Russell. "I'm sad that she had to die like this."
Russell is grateful for the many women and accused batterers she has helped over the years, but she is sad for the one she could not.
"I think that just shows how much power that the perpetrator has over their victims," she said.
Seeing all the support at the vigil, Russell says she plans to work even harder to make sure other families do not experience the pain she is experiencing.
Lee remains in the Orange County Jail. As for her Hart's two young children, her family will now raise them.