By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – Rita Millsaps wants women who take the first step in getting out of a domestic violence situation to have all the tools to start a new life.
So she’s collecting anything from small appliances to towels to provide for women starting over, and she’s doing it in honor of her daughter, who was a victim herself, killed by her estranged husband in a police-ruled murder-suicide.
Millsaps’ daughter, Amanda Millsaps, separated from her husband in October 2009. During the months that followed, her mom said Amanda was followed and assaulted by her estranged husband, Brad Johnson.
She filed multiple police reports and went before an Alcorn County judge to get a restraining order, without any success.
Millsaps said they didn’t think Amanda was unsafe because they had known Johnson and his family their whole lives.
In January 2010, Amanda and Johnson began the divorce process. On Jan. 10, Johnson confronted her outside. Millsaps said Amanda told her to call the police, and she began to dial, but before she could finish, she heard a gunshot and saw her daughter fall. She then watched as Johnson shot himself in the chest. They were both dead.
“We don’t think this happens in a city like ours,” Millsaps said. “We don’t think this happens to families like ours. But obviously it does.”
She said Johnson never abused or threatened her daughter while married.
“The main thing that comes to mind is the changed behavior in the person – he changed,” she said. “After she left, that’s when you saw it was clear he was stalking her. When I was dialing 911, I didn’t realize the severity because we were worried about Brad; we didn’t think he would hurt her.”
Millsaps has hung purple ribbons around Corinth each October since Amanda’s death to help start a conversation about domestic violence. This year, as a part of her awareness campaign, Millsaps will collect domestic items like furniture, dishes, sheets, small kitchen appliances and any necessary household items for Tupelo’s S.A.F.E. Inc.
“When a woman finally leaves or if the husband is arrested or in jail and they can move out, they often can’t afford a lawyer to go back in and get their stuff or they don’t have access to their things,” she said. “S.A.F.E. helps set them up when they move on.”
On Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., Rita Millsaps will be at Arby’s on Highway 72 in Corinth collecting items and Corinth residents
can call (662) 286-9512 for large or early pickups. Anyone can
call (662) 841-9138 to set up a donation pick-up.