On Monday March 12, 2012 the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department gave out a number, 20. The number was given to Sarah Billingsley-Walker, 18 of Wellston. The Vashon High School Senior was found dead in the home of Leonard Johnson, 17, her cause of death, a “mystery”. There were no visible bruises or marks on her and no sign of struggle or fowl play. I learned of Sarah’s death early in the afternoon on Tuesday while talking to a co-worker, I was busy complaining about my day and whining about a denied time off request when my co-worker said, “I’m sorry all that is happening, one of our kids was killed last night.” Working with the demographic of youth that I service it is nothing surprising to learn that one of them has lost their lives. Before asking the next question, I’d got in my mind that it was one of the male youth and he had been shot, it never crossed my mind that it would be a young lady and that her life would’ve been taken in such a cruel manner. As the day went on, we learned more details of Sarah’s death from sources close to her, Leonard was on the run and was being urged to turn himself in to police. The full story of this tragic story can be found here as written on STLToday.com: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/family-had-warned-slain-vashon-student-about-boyfriend/article_bc14d8b4-6d1f-11e1-a5a9-001a4bcf6878.html
Lets play the numbers game:
Everyday, more than 3 women in the U.S are killed by their husband or boyfriend, so Sarah is not the first to lose her life at the hands of a man (in this case boy) that claimed to love her. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls admit to being in a situation where their boyfriend has threatened them with violence or self-harm if presented with a break-up. Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten. 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault or abuse by a partner each year. Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police. (The reporting source for these facts is National Coalition Against Domestic Violence )
Unfortunately the death of Sarah Billingsley-Walker, will be put in the book as Homicide # 20 in the City of St. Louis, but she wasn’t just another number. She was a daughter, a sister, and a friend. She was a young woman with a bright future ahead of her, she was her school’s Valedictorian, she was Homecoming Queen and a member of the National Honor Society. What we also have to realize is that at some point before her death she was a victim of domestic violence, I can’t say if anyone knew and didn’t help her. This is not a Lifetime movie, its real life and it happens everyday to women we come in constant contact with. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship I encourage you to seek help. Everything in life is fixable, except death, don’t wait until you have a number to make a difference.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE