WZTV FOX 17 - Top Stories
A midstate family wants to help women escape domestic violence, one year after their own daughter was murdered.
Tonya Thompson was killed one year ago in Columbia. Now, her family and friends gather in her memory.
Scattered among cemetery headstones are dozens of purple balloons.
"Purple is the color for domestic violence," says Kenneth Thompson.
It has been one year since 35 year old Tonya Thompson was shot and killed at this home in Columbia.
Those close to her say she was a victim of domestic violence, but she never had the strength to leave.
"There are places to turn, and people to turn to and they can walk you through the steps of getting out on your own," says Tonya's father Kenneth Thompson.
Tonya's parents have become advocates. They are fighting against domestic violence.
They'll soon be headed to court where Tonya's boyfriend John Lee Fleming will go on trial.
But on this anniversary, their thoughts are focused on helping victims.
"I think she would like the fact that people are helping," says on Teresa Thompson.
Domestic violence has been a key topic in Tennessee this year.
"Unfortunately domestic violence is far more common than most people believe," says Angie Slack with Hope House.
Tennessee lawmakers recently increased the penalty for repeat offenders.
The Volunteer State ranks second in the nation for domestic violence.
Angie Slack runs Columbia's "Hope House," which served more than 900 victims last year.
"It's important that we end the silence on domestic violence, and start talking about it, and making it acceptable for victims to come out and talk about it," says Slack.
One year after Tonya Thompson's life was taken, her family is working to make sure she's not forgotten.
The grave is decorated with purple flowers. The balloons tied with messages in her memory.
Her mother finds strength believing her daughter is now safe.
"One of these days I'll see her again. You know in the mean time, I miss her a whole lot," says Teresa Thompson.
Tonya Thompson was the mother of three girls.
Her family is encouraging community members to fill the courtroom later this month when the alleged murderer goes on trial.
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Sunday, September 2 2012, 10:39 AM CDT
Prince Edward presents Edinburgh's awards in Tenn.
May 23, 2013 22:00 GMT
By ERIK SCHELZIG Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, is visiting Tennessee to promote one of the British royal family's charities, the Duke of Edinburgh's awards.
The prince presided over an awards ceremony at the governor's mansion in Nashville on Thursday for the first batch of young Tennesseans to participate in the leadership and character program.
About 80 youths received the award by participating in community service, skills development, physical fitness and adventurous journeys through the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, LEAD Academy, Montgomery Bell Academy or the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Organization.
Following the event, Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam invited the awardees and their families to tea inside the governor's residence. Later on Thursday, the prince was scheduled to headline a black-tie gala at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville.
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