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Durham mother prepares for toddler's funeral

Posted May 8, 2011
Updated May 9, 2011

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— A Durham woman spent Mother's Day making funeral arrangements for her 22-month-old daughter, after police say the child's father shot her Saturday before turning the gun on himself.

LaToya Smith said she had been fighting with the father of her daughter, Tyaijah Destiny Hester, shortly before the shooting. 

Police found Tyrone Xavier Hester lying behind building N at the Hampton Forest Apartments, at 901 Chalk Level Road, shortly before 1 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tyaijah, who had also been shot behind the building but was still alive when officers arrived on scene, was taken to Duke University Hospital. She was pronounced dead a short time later.

Smith said she's struggling to cope with the loss.

"I'm hurting, but I just can't cry any more. I've been crying in church today. I've been crying everywhere," she said.

Durham mother prepares for toddler's funeral Durham mother prepares for toddler's funeral

Smith's mother and the toddler's grandmother, Margarite McCrea, questioned why Hester would shoot his own daughter just two months before her second birthday.

"He didn't have to kill my baby. He didn't," McCrea said. "I don't care about him killing himself, but not my baby."

Hester's family, who said they were in shock over what happened, believe Hester was upset that Smith had started dating another man.

His cousin, Quanisha Burwell, was at the apartment where Hester was visiting family before the shooting.

"After he grabbed her, he said they were about to go to a better place," Burwell said.

She said Hester loved his daughter and always talked about her.

"I still can't believe it," she said.

According to Department of Correction records, Hester was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on a legislative officer in December 2004. He has previously been on probation for possession of stolen goods and assault on a female charges.

Police are still investigating the shooting.

Funeral arrangements had not been finalized Sunday.


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  • tffnyperry May 10, 2011

    I have been disturbed every since i heard this story...I have a child the same age of this little girl and I will be devastated if this had happen to me. Mr. Hester was a selfish and a coward to do this. He did this just because he had "babymama drama"
    she found another man..Well good for her ! I'm pretty sure he had another woman as well...He just wanted to have his cake and eat it too! and he couldnt handle it so he killed his daughter and himself ! So sad...

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    Who gets up and goes to church the day after her child is killed by a deranged freak boyfriend?

    Many. The church help her so please don't knock it.

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    May his family see his wrongness. It affected them too. No use continue to cover and make excuses for him. It is what it is.

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    believe Hester was upset that Smith had started dating another man.

    He was not married to her and she had a right to move on and have a good relationship with someone else. There was no need to kill the child or anyone else. Sad story indeed. Jealousy over took this man. Continue to pray for the family and especially the mother.

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    An innocent child's life was snatch away because of an irresponsible adult. Continue to pray for our children all over the world. Pray for the mothers too.

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    abused previously and that the mother isn't somehow involved.

    Forget it. You are just trying your best to grab any kind of excuses. How would you feel if your child was killed by someone. The mother is not at fought at all.

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    Women be very careful in the men you bring into your life. Check them out first. Some men have anger that just don't seem to go away. They need help and you don't need them in your life. PERIOD!

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    Wonder what He was doing to be so jealous of the mother that he had to resort to taking the child's life?

  • wildcat May 10, 2011

    He took the coward's way out. May the mother and the family find peace. May God comfort all of you doing the coming days. Keep her memories for they are so precious. All of you are in mind prayer. Just remember, mother , this was a senseless act that was not your fought. He did it to to get back at you. Continue to hold on to God's unchanging hands and He will see you through this difficut time.

  • smashedglass May 10, 2011

    praying for the families, that's horrible