STARKE, Fla. – A mother is speaking out one month after her daughter was shot and killed. Her message is to help other women in domestic abuse situations.
Kiana Thomas, 21, was shot and killed by her husband, Kion Johnson, 25, after a dispute. Starke police said the information given by Johnson’s 7-year-old son, who witnessed the shooting, led them to Johnson’s arrest.
Members of the community gathered Friday night at the church that Thomas went to, right across from her house, and right next to the place where she was killed by Johnson. They gathered to honor her life, but now her mother’s mission is to help other women get out of abusive relationships.
A domestic abuse advocate from local nonprofit Peaceful Paths also attended the vigil. Peaceful Paths are an organization that provides free services for adults and children in domestic abuse situations.
Tina Burch, Thomas’ mother, said she was in abusive relationship but was able to get out.
Burch said she didn’t know about all of her daughter’s problems and how much she suffered in silence. She said she wants to help others in the community who are mentally, emotionally and physically abused.
“In honor of my daughter, these ladies need to get help and they need to know that there are ways out,” Burch said.
Thomas’ best friend, Larreisha Davis, also spoke at the vigil about two abusive relationships she was in.
Davis was shot in the arm during a fight with one of her boyfriends, but she didn’t know her friend would go through the same situation and not make it out alive.
“This is where I was shot,” Davis said. “The bullet is still right here.”
Davis said she knew about the abuse Thomas was enduring, but kept her secrets safe. She didn’t know Thomas would go through the same violent situation she was all too familiar with.
“I made it and she didn’t, so it hurts so much,” Davis said.
While Davis has recovered from some of her injuries, she said emotionally there’s still a long road ahead.
Davis said she is working with Thomas’ mother to speak out about domestic violence.
Click here to learn more about the Peaceful Paths organization.