William Spratley flicks through the text messages on his phone until he finds the one he’s been looking for. It’s from his 27-year old daughter, Ameya, and it’s the last words he will ever exchange with her. Ameya was killed by her abusive boyfriend in January 2010.
“I keep this text because I can’t let go,” William sobs into his hands as he recounts the details of his daughter’s murder.
William had always been uneasy around Ameya’s boyfriend, Keith, and had tried to talk his daughter out of the relationship several times.
“He had her almost controlled… I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know she was being abused,” William said.
The situation worsened when Ameya and Keith moved in together with Ameya’s two sons. Keith was in and out of jail on drug charges, but when Ameya became pregnant, she hoped their family would be enough to turn things around.
And then January 11, 2010 came – the day that Keith brutally stabbed and killed Ameya in front of their newborn son.
William started to worry when Ameya’s friend called looking for her. They had made plans to meet at the laundromat, but Ameya had never showed.
“In my gut, I knew he had done something to her,” William said. He called the police, emergency rooms, and every friend and relative he could think of, but no one had seen Ameya. That night, William and Ameya’s friends searched the apartment she shared with Keith. They found her body on the floor of her closet, covered in dirty laundry.
“All my life I tried to protect her,” William said. “I was there, I’d always been there for her, but I couldn’t save her.”
William is now helping to raise Ameya’s three sons. The family misses Ameya every day, and has a powerful message to share:
“We want the world to know how serious domestic violence is, and how it hurts so many lives,” William said. “It can happen to anyone. I’m only one man in a big world, but I want to be Ameya’s voice. Hers was a life that shouldn’t have been lost. I couldn’t save my daughter, but maybe I can help save the next victim.”
UPDATE: William has since become a passionate advocate against domestic violence, speaking at dozens of rallies and community events throughout Philadelphia about the realities and dangers of intimate partner violence.
In 2012, Keith was convicted of first degree murder. He is serving a life sentence in jail.
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