The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Faces of Domestic Violence

October 13, 2012

Fredericka Smith: 'You can't replace someone like her'

DALEVILLE, Ind. — James Walton and Fredericka Smith didn’t have a thing in common. Yet the two were soul mates.

“When she was killed it was like I lost my right arm,” James said of his “Jo,” as he referred to his longtime partner. “I still miss her today. I look up every once in a while and think I hear her walking down the halls. It’s tough.”

Fredericka, 67, was shot and killed by Donald Johnson, her 76-year-old ex-husband of 31 years.

Fredericka was cleaning an Anderson home that she had given to her son; earlier, she had taken paper for recycling. Her grandchildren, ages 12 and 7, were there when Johnson shot her. He pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to a 55-year prison term. He remains incarcerated.

“It happened for no reason, over useless paper she‘d taken to recycling” James said. “She didn’t do anything but help him.”

Helping people was a part of Fredericka’s nature, he said. A day didn’t go by where she didn’t help someone.

“You can’t replace someone like her,” James said. “You would talk to her for five minutes and you’d fall in love.”

Initially he met Fredericka at a club; they talked about both being truck drivers. A month later they were put on the same truck and the two drove together for 15 years. The two lived in Daleville.

James, 81, joked that they’d talked about marriage, but just “never did get around to it.”

“It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life,” he said. “We loved each other so much. We spent 21 years together without a cross word between us.”

James said Fredericka was one of the most positive people he’d ever met. She wouldn’t let others, and their negativity, get to her.

“She didn’t even get mad at someone,” he said. “What she always said is, ‘They probably don’t even know you are mad at them. The only person harmed is yourself because you are thinking about it.’ That’s just how she was. A complete human being.”

She was a talented belly dancer — even teaching some classes. Before Fredericka became a truck driver she was a high school foreign language teacher but decided she could make a better living driving a truck, a decision that brought the two of them together, James said. She had a masters in linguistics and could speak French, German, Spanish and some Russian.

Fredericka was addicted to reading and fascinated with the English language.

“Life isn’t the same without her,” he said.

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Faces of Domestic Violence
  • 1028 news Domestic Violence illustration06 - Copy.JPG Who can stop domestic violence? You

    The elimination of abuse in relationships — with time, cooperation and commitment — is possible, said Colleen Yeakle, coordinator of the Indiana Coalition of Domestic Violence’s (ICADV) prevention initiative.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Legislation comes a long way, but more change needed

    Each year the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence sets its legislative priorities based on year-round discussions with its members and legislators to see what needs are out there and what is going on in the field.

    October 27, 2012

  • 1028 news Empty Table Settings 18a.jpg Children affected by abuse too

    While some may think the atmosphere at Alternatives, the Anderson domestic violence shelter, would be a somber one, instead it is a building filled with laughter and joy.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • Gissendanner, Kristy.jpg Kristy Gissendanner: 'Vivacious and sweet'

    Six-day-old Gabrielle Gissendanner and her 18-month-old brother Michael weren’t far from their mom when Harry Gissendanner shot and killed Kristy in their Anderson home in 2004.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • John Davis: ‘Defined by your actions and inactions’

    John Davis wants his pain to make a difference. He’s hopeful sharing what he experienced and witnessed growing up will empower someone else to leave a dangerous situation or avoid it altogether.

    October 27, 2012

  • ‘It was life-altering’

    Casey Huffman should have taken her son Camdon to his first day of kindergarten this year. She should be picking out a Halloween costume for him. She should be thinking about how to help him achieve his hopes and dreams. Instead, Casey mourns over his all-too-early death.

    October 27, 2012

  • Tomlinson, Tina.tif Tina Tomlinson: 'She was a hoot'

    Tina Tomlinson was just “plain fun,” her family recalled. The mother of two and dedicated grandmother was someone family could look to for a good time.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • 1024 news Domestic violence forum 108a.jpg Domestic violence prevention is possible, expert says

    Gender stereotypes are just one thing that Todd Cawthorn and five other speakers, during a 90-minute panel discussion Tuesday night, talked about that create an environment where domestic violence is accepted.

    October 23, 2012 3 Photos

  • 1023 news Dating violence talk 33a.jpg Teens can be victims of domestic violence, too

    Dating violence has been seen locally in relationships as young as sixth grade, Alternatives Inc. prevention specialist Todd Cawthorn said.

    October 22, 2012 2 Photos

  • 1021 news pendleton town court 020.jpg Justice for victims

    While a protective order is an important piece of the legal puzzle that domestic violence victims have to solve, Judge Stephen Clase stresses to each that it is, after all, “just a piece of paper.” “They won’t stop a knife or a bullet,” he said. “I tell them they need to be on guard at all times.”

    October 20, 2012 1 Photo

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  • Where to find help

    Alternatives Inc., 24-hour crisis line
    (765) 643-0200 or (866) 593-9999
    Kandi Floyd, Christy Clark, Dara Tracy -- victim’s advocates
    Victims Assistance Program, Madison County Sheriff’s Department
    (765) 646-4078 or (765) 646-4079
    Gay Doss, Jaime Wilhoite -- victim assistance providers
    Victim Assistance Program, Madison County Prosecutor‘s Office
    (765) 641-9673
    Melinda Padgett, Karla Montgomery, Alison Lutz, Gracie Roman, Laura Evans -- victim assistance providers
    Victim Assistance Unit, Anderson Police Department
    (765) 648-6773, Lessa Johnson, Christy Jones -- victim assistance specialists
    Sowers of Seeds Counseling, Batters’ Intervention Program
    (765) 649-3452
    Vaughn Walker -- supervisor

    Anonymous The Herald Bulletin Fri, October 12
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