BOWLING GREEN, OH (WTOL) - Ten years ago, a family was torn apart by a tragic incident that spawned from domestic violence.
A young girl had her mother taken from her late on a March night in 2007. The man that pulled the trigger was her own father.
Now Madi Sears is a young woman, a freshman at Bowling Green State University. And though ten years seems like a long time, she and her grandmother, Kathy Newlove, are keeping the memory of Alicia Castillon alive.
On March 29, 2007, Madi Sears was woken up in the middle of the night by gunshots. And though she does not have vivid memories of the days surrounding the crime, that horrific night is stained in her memory.
"I saw my dad walk out of my mom's bedroom with a gun in his hand and he looked over at me and my sister, who had ran over to me, and said, 'Don't go in there,'" Madi remembered. "Just seeing my mom laying there in a pool of her own blood really, I will never forget seeing that I don't think. And that's really sad to me. I just wouldn't wish that upon anyone."
Alicia Castillon, along with her boyfriend John Mitchell, were murdered in cold blood by Madi's father Craig R. Daniels, Jr.
"It has caused a lot of emotion pain on me and my family," Madi said. "We've all been through so much that it's just like we think of crazy things because of the crazy thing has happened to you."
She knew her father had been abusive to her mother. But once Daniels was out her life, everything began to turn around for the better.
"It was a really good time when this all happened," Madi said. "So I don't think I could ever imagine him doing something like this, but I did know he was capable of it. And I did know he was not someone I would want to call my dad."
Almost ten years later, Madi received a letter from prison from her incarcerated father. Her response was profound.
"I sent one letter," Madi said. "And I basically just said, 'I wake up every morning without a mom, and I have to go to bed every night knowing I'll never see her again.' I said, 'I feel as though I have the right to ask why you did this to her.'"
Madi says she may never be able to forgive her father. To this day, she says she never refers to Daniels as her dad.
"I do see how it could be difficult for him," Madi said. "It's not that I feel bad, but I am a very forgiving person. But I don't think I'll ever forgive him for what he's done."
"He's really just nothing to me," Madi said.
She also says the pain of living without her mother has not gotten any easier.
As a freshman in college, she says it is sometimes hard for her to hear friends talk about their families.
"Hearing my friends, I feel like happy for them. I really do, to know they haven't had to go through something like this," Madi said. "But it can be sad. I see people treat their parents awful sometimes and people really do take things for granted. I wish every day I could go back and have one conversation with my mom."
Alicia Castillon's mother, Kathy Newlove, says ten years later, the memories of her daughter are sadly beginning to fade.
"It's almost getting to the point where I'm forgetting her face, I'm forgetting her smile, I'm forgetting her voice, and those beautiful blue sparkly eyes that she had," Newlove said. "And I don't want to forget those things."
In the middle of the campus at Bowling Green State University, there is a cemetery not too far from Madi's dorm room. Interred within the cemetery is Madi's mother.
Madi says she visits the memorial often. It is a bittersweet reminder that her mother is never far away.
"It's sad. But, it's kind of nice that she's there with me really on campus to go visit her whenever I want," Madi said.
Both Madi Sears and Kathy Newlove say they will continue to fight for victims of domestic violence as time goes on, not just as a way to honor Alicia, but to prevent any other family from being torn apart.
And while Madi, Kathy and the rest of the family may never fully heal from the tragedy, they still find solace in each other.
"We have each other. Our family has each other," Madi said. "That's all we can really do right now. Just talk to each other."