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Statewide Vigils Raise Awareness About Domestic Violence

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In just the past two months, officials claim 16 women and children have been killed in domestic violence incidents in North Carolina. People gathered at vigils statewide Thursday to honor domestic violence victims.

Phyllis McEleney has done something no one should ever have to do: She buried a daughter and a grandson.

"The last time I saw my grandson was the morning of July 1," she said. "The silence in our home, the loneliness and pain will remain with our family for the rest of our lives.

On July 1, police say

Alan Gates

killed his daughter, and McEleney's daughter and grandson.

"There's three people that are deceased because of one person's violent act, which is senseless," McEleney said.

On Thursday, people gathered at 25 vigils across the state to honor domestic violence victims.

"If we don't make it our responsibility, more people will die," state attorney general Roy Cooper said.

Officials said 16 women and children have died in North Carolina since May 4 as the result of domestic violence. Police said Ronald Hendrickson beat his girlfriend, Tiana Williams, to death with a chair earlier this month.

"My sister was murdered and it kills me to say, 'Can somebody stop this madness before somebody else has to replay it?'" said Christopher Williams, Tiana's brother.

Officials said one of the biggest problems in prosecuting domestic violence cases is that the victims are often afraid to testify. Orange County District Attorney Carl Fox has announced he will join other prosecutors across the state in pursuing these cases based on the evidence even when the victim will not take the stand.