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Family wants murder to send a message about domestic violence
JEFFERSON COUNTY-By: Leslie Rangel
Relatives of a woman Beaumont police say was the victim of family violence hope her death prompts others to get away from abusive relationships.
Investigatators have charged 35-year-old Ray Anthony Grant with shooting and killing his estranged wife.
Police say he showed up at a birthday party Saturday night on 10th Street, asked her to step outside, then killed Natasha Duggins, he's charged with murder.
JC Duggins holds onto pictures of his daughter Natasha, memories on a cell phone.
"She was wonderful, hard working, loved her kids, strong, strong woman," Duggins said.
A woman the family described as full of life.
"Her whole personality, just beautiful she was just beautiful, inside and out," Shonna Merchant, Natasha's sister says.
Relatives told us Duggins met Ray Grant when she was sixteen.
"We tried to help her several times get away but she always went back, she spent 10 years with this guy," Duggins said.
They were married, but separated.
The family says Duggins was determined to get on with her life.
"She was so proud of how much she had come up and she wanted to keep going forward with that," Merchant says.
They say she'd moved into a new apartment and had a new job to help her four children.
"It just made her feel like she was worthy again, there was that self hope, she was going to church," Merchant said.
Duggins' family says it wants her death to serve as a message to others.
"If you can't get away, keep trying, keep asking for help, the more people that know you need help, maybe it's less that that person can hurt you, because if they're intending to hurt you, they're going to hurt you," Duggins says.
And while her relatives hope others listen to the message they're left dealing with the void.
"When somebody come thorugh the door, you know there's somebody missing and you're expecting them to come through or you're waiting for the phone call," Merchant said.
No matter what they talked about on the phone or in person, one phrase always summed up the visit.
"That's the way we always ended, I love you would be the last thing," Duggins said.
In lieu of flowers, relatives are asking for donations to Family Services of Southeast Texas on behalf of the woman's shelter in Beaumont and the Piney Woods shelter in Jasper.