In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, employees and board members of the Tri County Protective Agency gathered at Oglethorpe Cemetery on Tuesday to honor those who have fallen victim to domestic violence.
Yellow roses were placed in a vase beneath the memorial wreath and the poem “Remember My Name” was read by Willa Lewis, the agency’s board president.
Mary Payne, who worked at Tri County Protective Agency, died as a result of domestic violence on April 24, 2001.
Payne had left the agency’s shelter at about 11 p.m. unaware her boyfriend, Rufus Stancil, had been sitting in his car that evening watching her while she worked.
Stancil followed her and rear-ended her vehicle. When Payne stopped her car, Stancil exited his vehicle, ran up to Payne’s car and stabbed her repeatedly.
Agency director Paula Foerstel said by the time she and her husband arrived at the scene, Payne had died.
Melanie Griffin, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) assessor for the Tri County Protective Agency, said Payne was in a situation that was beyond her control.
“I feel that she felt she could handle a situation in which she was incapable of handling,” said Griffin.
Stancil was apprehended in North Carolina and tried for Payne’s murder, along with the 1998 attempted murder and kidnapping of an ex-girlfriend. He received two life sentences for his crimes.
Foerstel said Payne had been very private about her life.
“None of us knew,” Cheryl Hughes, Foerstel’s assistant, said.
She was more concerned about helping others,” Griffin said.
“We’re here to remember not only Mary, but other victims of domestic abuse as well,” Foerstel said.
If you or someone you know, is a victim of domestic violence, call the crisis line at 368-9200 or the domestic violence shelter at 368-8668.
According to www.endabuse.org:
• There are about 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse each year.
• Three million women are physically abused each year by their boyfriend or husband.
• Between 3 and 10 million children each year reportedly witness some form of domestic violence.