TOLEDO -- Domestic violence is an issue that affects thousands of families in our area. Chances are you know someone affected by domestic violence, although you may not know what goes on behind closed doors.
Domestic violence victims come from all walks of life --big cities, and rural communities, and in many cases...children are the ones hurt the worst. In one particular case from Wood County, four siblings are left without their mom. Domestic violence has forever changed Alicia's kids.
Photographs and memories are all the girls have left of their mother Alicia Castillon. In the early morning hours of March 29th, the mother of four was gunned down in her own home -- the victim of domestic violence. "It's one of those things this will never happen to you," said Sarah Sears, who's now raising Alicia's children. "This will never happen to you..."
"It's the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think of at night when I go to bed," said Kathy Newlove, Alicia's mother. She says she often re-lives the pain of losing her only daughter.
Alicia was home with her boyfriend, John Mitchell when the gunman entered the home and shot them both. Alicia's daughters, Katie and Madison, heard the gunshots and ran to their mother's room where Mitchell was bleeding but still alive. "He said to them, 'Don't worry... everything's going to be okay.' so she thought Mitchell was okay," said Newlove. "So she went running to her mother who was on the floor and Katie ran and got the phone and called 911."
On the phone, Katie was asked by the 911 operator if she knew who shot the pair. She said it was Craig Daniels, her step-father.
Daniels, who's charged with the crime, is the father of two of Alicia's children. According to court documents, had a 10-year history of beating, stalking and threatening Alicia. "I don't think we even knew how much danger she was in," said Sears. "And we didn't. We just weren't there, and I regret that we didn't help her."
Now the family is doing everything they can to help Alicia's children overcome this terrible tragedy. Sarah is married to Alicia's brother Jason, and they're raising the kids at their home in Florida. Sarah and the girls recently visited Alicia's parents in Bowling Green, and talked about how their lives have changed.
As the oldest, 11-year-old Katie feels the added burden of making sure her siblings don't ever forget their mom -- especially her baby brother Zayne. "I just miss her all the time," said Katie. "My brother probably won't ever remember her, so when he grows up he won't really know until we tell him, but I'll tell him a lot of stories about her and stuff."
"There's the sleepless nights... 'I can't sleep... I miss my mommy' and we say you've just got to cry," said Sears. "We hope she looks down on us and thinks we're doing a good job. We know she's very proud of her kids, and we hope she's there to help guide us and do the right thing."
Despite their huge loss, the family is moving forward. Holding onto the past, but embracing the future. "I think they're doing good," said Katie. "We all like it in Florida."
"It's really fun, cause we have our own swimming pool that we swim in almost every day," said her sister Madison.
"They're well behaved, smart," said Newlove. "[Alicia] raised four beautiful children. They're just tough, like their mother was."
Kathy Newlove is determined to help other women -- and children -- avoid this trauma. "Alicia's Voice" is a charity working to establish a family justice center in Wood County with all the resources a domestic violence victim would need under one roof. If you need help in Lucas County, call the YMCA at 419-241-7386.
In Wood County, a variety of resources is available on the website www.aliciasvoice.org