Sheila Darlene Leighty (maiden name), 46, died December 31, 1995, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here is her story, as told by her daughter, Michelle Abbey Prescott:
My Mother was a beautiful, kind and wonderful lady. She enjoyed dancing, reading, making ceramics, fishing and snuggling up with a bowl of popcorn and an old movie – her favorite of which was Gone With The Wind.
She never had a harsh word to say about anyone, and she was a wonderful Mother as well as Grandmother. But she was taken away from me, her only child, as a result of a horrible and deadly crime….DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
A lot of people tend to think “It could never happen in my family” I thought that too until December 28, 1995. I was living in Germany at the time, my ex-husband was in the Military.
I got a phone call at 3am on the 29th from my ex-husband’s First Sergeant with the news my mother was in the hospital and had suffered massive head injuries. Her second husband had beaten her head over and over on the hard floor.
The first thing he had to say when questioned by the police was that she had attacked him! You have to understand, my mother was all of 5 feet tall and weighed 90 pounds dripping wet. Her husband on the other hand was about 6’2″ and weighed about 240 pounds.
When he was caught at the house, he was putting a shovel, duct tape and her purse and coat in the trunk of his car…. You figure it out. When asked where her family could be contacted, he told them he did not know how to reach any of us and that he did not even know my name or the name of my grandmother or where we lived.
He did tell them that he THOUGHT my husband was in the military. It was a full 8 hours after this happened that I was contacted. And it was only by fluke that they found me while going through my mother’s purse, then in police hands. The Detective’s found my mother’s address book, and they found an address for a military unit in Germany.
We flew back to the states as soon as we could get a flight and all the paperwork together we needed to fly. We got to Nashville, Tennessee on the 30th. Nothing could have prepared me for what shape she was in when I saw her. There was this tiny woman laying in the bed with tubes and hoses and needles all in her arms and head. She had suffered massive head and brain injuries and was in a deep coma as well as on life support.
All of my family was there, my father, all of my father’s family, my stepmother and my mother’s mom. We sat vigil the entire time hoping for a miracle. But all our hopes and prayers were not enough. On the early morning of Dec 31, 1995, the doctors gave us the news that there was nothing that could be done. The injuries to her head and brain were too bad and that she was brain-dead.
I being her only child, was faced with the decision that nobody should have to face. I had to choose to disconnect the life support. I knew my Mother’s wishes, she had said in the past she did not want to go on being kept alive by tubes and computers. So I made the hardest decision in my life.
I know in my head it was the right thing to do, but my mind always continues to wonder…. What if.
My mother passed away December 31, 1995. She was only 46 years old.
Her killer (her second husband) pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder and received 20 years in prison for her murder. He was sentenced to serve 80% of the time and then would be eligible for parole.