Candlelight vigil calls for domestic violence awareness

October 12, 2012

LIMA — A loving mother. A friend. An auntie. Full of life. These are a few sentiments and ways that friends and family described Valeda Thomas at a candlelight vigil in her memory Thursday evening.

“She was just a happy person. She loved to sing. She might not have hit all the notes on key, but she loved to sing,” said Thomas’ sister, Tavena Thomas. “She just loved to see people smile.”

Valeda Thomas, 32, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Timothy Brown, 48, after a domestic dispute inside her home Oct. 3. The candlelight vigil was also at her 218 W. Murphy St. address.

Lima police Lt. Jim Baker said Valeda Thomas had obtained a temporary protection order against Brown before her death.

Tavena Thomas reflected on the moment when her other sister gave her the news that Valeda Thomas had been killed last Wednesday.

“I woke up and she told me that I would never be able to speak to my sister again,” she said, fighting back tears. “And it really saddened me. She has two children. Two beautiful children that will never see her again.”

Xavier Thomas, 13, and Brendon Thomas, 8, Valeda Thomas’ two children, stood silently in front of a T-shirt with their mother’s picture on it and held candles in remembrance of her during the vigil. About 50 people participated.

But Tavena Thomas said her sister’s death will not be in vain. It should serve as a reminder for the Lima community of how prevalent the issue of domestic violence is.

“We want people to learn if you’re going through a situation, to call out and reach out and get help,” she said. “You can get help from a friend, from a pastor, anybody. Don’t keep this bottled inside and with your significant other. It causes violence.”

Tavena Thomas said she had no idea her sister was going through any sort of domestic issue with Brown, nor did she know about the protection order.

“We had no idea,” she said. “We thought they were happy. We all thought she was happy.”

John Pearson, Valeda Thomas’ father, knows the pain of losing a daughter to domestic violence all too well. His other daughter, Teresa Burge, was strangled to death by her 51-year-old live-in boyfriend, Raymond Collins, in Lima on Jan. 27.

“This is the second daughter I’ve lost to domestic violence,” he said. “I’m trying to raise awareness. I don’t know what’s going on with that domestic violence stuff. It’s just crazy.”

Pearson said he is frustrated with the system, being that Valeda Thomas had a protection order against her alleged murderer.

“The steps in the system don’t work,” he said. “They don’t come until after the fact. And it’s too late then. Two of my daughters aren’t here anymore.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and Tavena Thomas said she and her family is going to do everything they can to prevent deaths like her sister’s from happening in the future.

“Domestic violence is a serious situation,” she said. “We are here to raise awareness against domestic violence and violence in general, in Lima, the surrounding counties and the United States in general.”

The vigil started at 7:30 p.m. and began with prayer. Then friends and family shared memories, at times laughing and at times crying, about Valeda Thomas’ life.

“Valeda was my wild child,” said Elaine Watkins, a longtime family friend. “What I loved about Valeda is that she said what she had to say to your face. She wouldn’t go behind your back and say nothing.”

Brown will appear in Lima Municipal Court for his preliminary trial on a murder charge at 9 a.m. Friday morning.


Candlelight Vigil For Lima Murder Victim - 10/11/12