The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 7, 2010

Murder victim mourned

JOHNSTOWN — More than 100 friends and family members of murder victim Tammy Smith gathered at Hindman Funeral Home in Johnstown on Friday night to lay her to rest.

Smith’s estranged boyfriend, Shawn Williams, is accused of stabbing her Aug. 3 at her mother’s Oakhurst Homes apartment.

“I can’t believe this is actually happening,” Tammy’s mother, Roxanne Smith, said earlier in the day. “To bury my child – there is no words for it.”

Smith witnessed her daughter’s murder. It was a horrific experience that Smith’s cousin Kathy Mac-

Ewan said has caused the mother agonizing pain and even brought undue criticism from some.

“There are some who have said they would have done something to stop Tammy’s attacker, and it tears Roxanne apart. Nobody knows what they would do in that situation,” MacEwan fumed before the start of the service.

MacEwan said Smith constantly thinks about the reason why her daughter was murdered and said she answered her mourning cousin the best way she knew how: “God gives us free will. That man chose take his free will and take another life – that’s it.”

If Tammy’s death helps one woman to choose to seek help from a women’s center or domestic violence services, then her death will not have been in vain, MacEwan said.

Roxanne Smith did what she could the night of the murder – she protected Tammy’s son, Dae’lon, 2, by taking him outside the apartment, MacEwan said.

Tammy is survived by three children, Dae’lon Britt, Onreey Stewart and Taejha Smith.

Each child has a different father. Smith’s death leaves a battle for custody between the children’s fathers and Tawnya Smith-Dickson, her sister. Taejha, 15, who is old enough to choose her guardian, has chosen to live with Smith-Dickson.

The power to choose was also the message Pastor Chris Dall, of Third Brethren Church, Johns-

town, imparted to mourners during the funeral service.

“We are faced with a choice,” Dall said. “We may feel hatred and resentment as a result of these circumstances, but let us not choose hatred,” Dall said.

The pastor urged mourners to choose to love

– and to focus that love on Tammy’s three children.

“If we choose to harbor hatred, then it will destroy us,” said Dall, who is the children’s youth minister.

“But, love never fails.”

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