Family uses daughter's murder to raise awareness - WSMV Channel 4

Family uses daughter's murder to raise awareness about domestic violence

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COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -

It was a somber anniversary for a Middle Tennessee family.

One year ago today, Tonya Thompson was found shot to death in her Maury County home. Her boyfriend, John Lee Fleming IV is accused of pulling the trigger.

Saturday family, friends and even strangers paused to remember the mother of three and to help save others.

"She would be smiling," Teresa Thompson, Tonya's mother commented.

Dozens of mourners gathered around Tonya Thompson's gravesite at the Heritage Funeral Home Saturday. People, her father Kenneth Thompson said, whose lives the mother of three touched and those touched by her life.

"She just had the most bubbly personality. She just smiled," said Kenneth Thompson.

Exactly one year ago Saturday, police found the 35-year-old woman shot to death in her Columbia home.

"She was saving money to get out of that situation," her mother recalled. "It was like she finally mustered up the strength and she never got that opportunity."

So this morning family, friends and strangers paused to remember her bright smile, but more importantly to tell her story. Each one released a single purple balloon in Tonya Thompson's memory. A symbol of their love for her and to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Angie Slack with Hope House, partnered with the Thompson family to spread the word.

"Tennessee is the fifth in the nation for women being killed by men," Slack said.

The nonprofit group offers domestic violence counseling and advocacy services for abuse victims.

"Tonya's death cannot be in vain," Slack explained. "If we can help one more victim to seek assistance then we're doing something today."

Tonya Thompson's daughter Shana hopes to spare others her pain.

"I hope women out there get to see what can happen to them even though they think it might not, cause my mom never would have thought."

A somber tribute to a woman whose tragic story her loved ones hope will do for others, what she couldn't do for herself break the cycle of abuse.

Fleming's charged with first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled to begin September 24.

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