NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Tennessee woman spoke out for the first time after her mother was kidnapped and killed by her ex-boyfriend, according to police. The search for her lasted hours and came to a tragic end.
According to detectives with Kentucky State Police, the kidnapping took place in Cadiz, Kentucky the morning of Sept. 22. According to police, Tammy Beechum, 53, was taken by force from the parking lot of her workplace. Shortly after, the suspect was identified as Thomas Hungerford, 65, an ex-boyfriend.
“She recently left him, because he was extremely abusive. He choked her to death. Me and mom, went down to this guy’s house and at that point, he probably thought she’d be back,” said Elizabeth Wooton, Beechum’s daughter.
Wooton said she remembered going with her mother to move all of her belongings out of Hungerford’s place.
Police were dispatched just after 8:00 a.m. to the scene of the kidnapping, but it wouldn’t be until later that night when police spot Hungerford’s vehicle. After a short pursuit, police found both Beechum and Hungerford dead inside his SUV, in an apparent murder-suicide.
“I think my mom had a sense that it might happen, but I really don’t think that she thought he would take it that far,” explained Wooton.
Wooten says the two had been dating for a year, but she had no idea after the break-up Hungerford was allegedly stalking her mother while at work. Although the family knew there was some type of domestic violence occurring within the relationship, Wotten now hopes by sharing her mother’s story, others will recognize the signs of domestic abuse, and act fast.
“You hear about it on the news, and in places that are big cities, but it’s so close,” said Wotton. “I think it’s still unreal that I have to say that my mom was murdered.”
It’s stories like hers that shine a light on domestic violence.
On Thursday, members of the YWCA in Nashville spent the day tying purple ribbons on the trees outside of their headquarters — each ribbon representing the more than 500 victims the organization has helped. October represents Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“You often have a situation where everything is good, everything is normal, then it turns ugly, then it turns violent, and often the cycle ends up apologies, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” said Sharon Roberson, President and CEO of YWCA in Nashville and Middle TN.
A new report from the Violence Policy Center reveals Tennessee ranks among the top-10 states for victims of homicide. The study found nearly 1,800 women were murdered by men in 2019, and the most common weapon used was a gun.
“These men that often women feel love for them. We have to own that as a state and we have to continue to do the work to educate the public and make them aware of domestic violence,” explained Roberson.
Roberson says it’s all about education and letting victims know there is a way out if needed.
If you are in danger, need to speak with an advocate, or have general questions about domestic violence, you can call the YWCA’s 24-hour Crisis & Support Helpline: 1-800-334-4628 or TEXT at 615-983-5170.