MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Family members of a woman who was stabbed to death at a Memphis motel this weekend say they believe she was at that motel to get away from the man now accused of killing her.
Derriontay Perry made his first court appearance Monday morning. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Kristie Orange.
Family members say he killed her in front of her young children. They say the relationship only lasted a few months, but there were repeated incidents of abuse.
Police say the young mother of four was stabbed to death by her boyfriend, 23-year-old Perry, at a Whitehaven motel early Saturday.
Perry told police Orange tried to stab him first but her family isn’t buying that story. They say she was actually in that hotel with her kids trying to escape repeated abuse from Perry.
In cases of domestic violence, counselors say abusers are often persistent and don’t stop until they find their victims.
“Even sometimes when we find a safe place for the victim to stay, the abuser finds the victim. They just know how to find them,” said Ethele Hilliard with the Family Safety Center. “It’s a terrible situation and shouldn’t happen to anyone.”
What makes this situation worse is family members say Kristie’s young children witnessed everything. They are too young to realize their mom had been taken from them forever.
“It’s clearly traumatic for the children and one would say, ‘Oh they’re young. They’re going to forget about it. It won’t have an impact,'” Hilliard said. “It has a tremendous impact.”
Counselors say many victims are reliving what they’ve seen growing up, and so one of their toughest challenges is helping them realize what abuse is, and then helping them find the courage to leave.
“It takes seven or eight different times before the victim has everything all worked out in their minds and decides to leave that abuser,” Hilliard said.
Counselors said victims need a lot of empathy and support from family members when trying to get away. They have a 24-hour crisis line you can call at any time for help. That number is 901-249-7611.
Perry is due back in court later this month.