Vigil honors Johnston County domestic violence, abuse victims
Posted July 22, 2010 6:18 a.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2010 11:43 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — A candlelight vigil was held Thursday to honor the lives of four people who died recently of domestic violence or abuse in Johnston County.
Harbor, Inc., a non-profit shelter, crisis and counseling group which helps victims of domestic violence, sponsored the vigil at the Johnston County Courthouse. The group typically holds a vigil in October but said that wouldn't help the people who need help now.
Joli Barnette says she lived with domestic violence for nine years. She shared her story of leaving an abusive husband.
"I know the fear. I know the terror. I know everything that they experienced. It brings it all back," she said.
Barnette encouraged victims to do "whatever you have to do to get out of that situation."
"Really, just take the first step, because you will never regret it," she said.
Barnette says she is happily remarried and sleeps a lot better knowing her ex-husband is in jail. She noted, though, as a survivor of domestic violence, the physical scars heal but the emotions remain.
One of the people honored at Thursday night's vigil was the most recent victim, 4-year-old Teghan Alyssa Skiba, who died at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill Monday night.
Investigators said the girl had been sexually abused, beaten and bitten in a barn behind a Smithfield home. Her mother’s boyfriend, Jonathan Douglas Richardson, 21, has been charged in her death.
Devinee R. House, 41 and her 14-year-old son, Dakoda Johnson, were also be honored. Authorities said House’s husband, William House, shot the two inside their home, at 640 Castleberry Road in Clayton, in the early hours of July 13 before turning the gun on himself.
Neighbors said William House told them the day before the shootings that he planned to shoot his wife and the man he believed to be her boyfriend.
Investigators haven't commented on a motive for the shootings but said the Houses were in the process of separating. Deputies had been called to the home four times since April.
Elizabeth Holmes Reyes, who was shot and killed on July 1, will also be remembered. Investigators said Reyes was living in a Smithfield home with her mother and step-father when her estranged husband arrived with a shotgun.
Deputies arrested Aldolfo Reyes Maldonado, 45, on the front porch of the home while he held the couple’s infant son.
In May, Maldonado was charged with communicating threats to Reyes. According to arrest warrants, Maldonado told Reyes he would kill her.