Domestic Violence sees no color. It does not care how much money you make, where you live or where you choose to worship. It is an issue that effects not only those involved, but also their families and the community that surrounds them. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and every Tuesday in October, BAMFI will shine the light on this all too common issue and its correlation with missing persons cases.
Today, contributor Jeff Mays of News One explores the disappearance of Shaquita Bell and how it is linked to domestic violence.
Shaquita Yolanda Bell, 23, was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Michael Dickerson in 1996. Dickerson had been charged with beating Bell in the past, with Bell even claiming that he held a loaded gun to her head.
“He said he would kill me because he’s going to get locked up anyway,” Bell, a bakery clerk with three children, the youngest of whom was Dickerson’s child, wrote in her datebook, according to the Washington Post.
And she had, had enough.
“I finally left him before he killed me,” she wrote before moving to Alexandria, Va., from Laurel, Md., to stay with her grandmother.
That’s why family members were shocked when she was seen leaving her grandmother’s house with Dickerson in June of 1996.
It was the last time relatives would see her alive.
Dickerson was eventually charged with her murder, and while he initially denied killing Bell, he took a plea deal, agreeing to reveal where he had buried her body.
According to court documents reviewed by the Post, a man, who allegedly helped hide Bell’s body, said “that he [Dickerson] shot her in a rage, she fell, and he then stood over her firing until the gun stopped.”
Bell’s family has still not been able to find where her body was allegedly buried.
Bell’s case is an example of how domestic violence and missing persons cases are related, said Derrica Wilson, president and co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation.
“Many missing persons of color cases that we have been directly involved in were a result of domestic violence. Often times when women and children are involved in a violent relationship, the abuser will file a “missing” person report. It is actually an attempt to find the victim who may have left to seek a safe place,” said Wilson.