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A Life Taken: Stacey's Story

By: Catherine Godbey, Journey for Decatur Daily

TRIGGER WARNING: The following describes an actual case of domestic violence and murder, which may trigger an intense response, particularly for people with PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

 

On June 12, 2014, two days after 33-year-old Stacey Lauren Jones’ ended a relationship with her abuser, she was murdered. Jones’ parents, William and Sherry Jones, shared their daughter’s story in hopes of raising awareness about domestic violence and saving another family from the heartache of losing a mother, daughter, sister or friend.

 The night of our daughter’s murder, she suffered a brutal beating of 266 bruises. Stacey died a painful death with blunt force trauma, broken bones and strangulation. Stacey was a victim. She never chose to be abused and the abuse was not her fault.

A year before she was murdered, she got involved with a man that would beat her and keep her prisoner in her own home. She was afraid for her safety and the safety of her family.

We don’t know how or when Stacey’s abuse started, but we know some of how it ended when the evidence came out at the trial in 2016. We had never known anyone that lived in a domestic violence home and had no idea about the warning signs and what they meant. But the warning signs were there.

Stacey became withdrawn and rarely left home. She started missing important family gatherings and work. We thought she quit coming around because she wanted to be with him. We know now that he was controlling her every move. He destroyed her property, including several phones, and vandalized her home and car. The killer terrorized her by stalking her. He worked out of state occasionally and forced her to go with him. He would beat her up and abandon her. He would take her phone, money and leave her.

We learned at the trial how he threatened to kill her and our family if she told us about the domestic violence or tried to leave him.

Stacey ended the relationship two days before she was murdered. This is the most vulnerable time for serious injury and death. This is called separation violence because of loss of control by the abuser.

The trial ended with a guilty verdict. Stacey’s murderer was sentenced to prison for 99 years for murder and 20 years for domestic violence. A parole hearing will be in 2029.

Alabama law states, “If the victim (Stacey) had filed a protection from abuse order, the murderer could have been sentenced to life in prison without parole.” This could be motivation for all victims of abuse to take the courage and time to file a protection from abuse order. Knowing that the killer would never be free to harm family members or others would be of some comfort for the victim’s family.

Domestic violence is a silent epidemic that no one wants to talk about. Fear, power and control are the driving forces. We did not understand the shame involved living in an abusive relationship and did not understand how hard it is to get out of the relationship.

Even for someone as independent as Stacey.

Stacey, a student a Priceville and Brewer schools and graduate of UAH, started her career at TBE in Huntsville, a contractor for NASA. Stacey was certified as a payload communications manager, a position responsible for voice and other real-time payload related astronaut crew communications, including space-to-ground channels to the International Space Station. She transferred to Germany and worked four years for the European Space Agency. She was the first American and first female certified on the Eurocom Team. She returned home to TBE in 2013 because of medical problems.

She had a new home, great career and a bright future.

After her death, three astronauts who worked with Stacey filmed a two-minute video aboard the International Space Station offering their condolences.

Our goal is to educate the victims, families and public about the dangers of domestic violence, in hopes other families will recognize the signs of abuse and victims will find the courage to leave.

Advice for Victims: Please don't feel ashamed by admitting you are in an abusive relationship. You are the victim and it is not your fault. There are people who love and care for you. You're not alone. Help is available. Please confide in someone. If you are afraid of how they will react, that they won't believe you or if you feel too ashamed to tell anyone, speak to someone anonymously. There are help lines available.

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence please call the Crisis Services HELPline 256-716-1000.

United Way, along with our 30 partners, fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person right here in Morgan County.

 When you support United Way of Morgan County through your workplace campaign or through a corporate or individual gift, you are helping the most vulnerable among us…the young, the old, the sick, and the poor as well as those affected by both man-made and natural disasters.  Those people are your neighbors, your co-workers, your family members, and your friends.  

United, we can win the fight!  Won’t you join us?! www.uwmcal.org

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