Ashleigh Marie Lindsey embodied the meaning of courage with her actions.
Tara Woodlee said her daughter knew she would die but still persisted and fought hard, striving for a better future. Ashleigh and her unborn baby, Patience Lynn, lost their lives to domestic violence on July 13, 2012.
Ashleigh lived with her abuser. Their roommate was his close friend. When Ashleigh found out she was pregnant on April 27, 2012, she started revealing more about the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
Tara and other loved ones encouraged Ashleigh to leave her abuser. She left him temporarily for a week. During this week, her abuser and his friend were relentless. They stalked and repeatedly harassed Tara with phone calls. One night, they showed up at Tara’s house, trying to break the doors down.
Terrified, Ashleigh dialed 911 while Tara waited with her gun. After the police arrived, he avoided arrest by running away.
Soon after, Ashleigh went back to her abuser, believing his promises about becoming a better man. However, Tara said he always used these empty promises to lure her daughter back to him. In his younger years, a man cracked his skull with a pipe, causing him to have seizures. He would also use the seizures as another way to bring Ashleigh back to him.
Two weeks later, after she went back to her abuser, Ashleigh fled and hid at a friend’s house. She didn’t contact anyone during that time. Although she had left a note about leaving, her abuser and his friend decided not to mention it to Tara. Instead, they called her, saying Ashleigh had vanished.
Tara feared the worst and thought the two men murdered her daughter. She filed a missing person report. When Ashleigh returned, bruises covered all of her arms and her hip including a black eye. Her abuser had an extensive criminal record of assaulting women, and his friend helped him abuse Ashleigh.
Her abuser burned her with cigarettes, slapped her, and kicked her sides to cause a miscarriage. He harassed her co-workers and threatened to kill them. His actions got her fired from two workplaces. He sabotaged her birth control, so she would become pregnant, making it harder to leave him. Although his friend witnessed the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse toward Ashleigh, he never reported it to the authorities and, instead, aided him.
Although Tara begged her to come home, Ashleigh refused because she was afraid of her abuser’s threats. Previously, he told her he would rape and kill her family members in front of her if she ever left him.
Tara and other family members helped Ashleigh hide, but her abuser used fake social media accounts and stalking to find her location and new workplace. Police officers insisted they were pressing charges, but Tara discovered those charges hadn’t been touched and were sitting inside an office. The officers wanted Ashleigh to hide nearby to make it easier to lure her abuser and catch him, but she said she needed to leave Texas if she wanted to stay alive.
Tara coordinated with Ashleigh, her crisis advocate, and the DA advocate — they planned for her to enter a shelter where only Tara would know the location, but that day never came.
On July 13, 2012, her roommate killed his mother’s boyfriend, stole his truck, and picked up Ashleigh’s abuser. Ashleigh was leaving for work from her friend’s house when the two men broke through the doors. Her abuser shot her twice and killed himself. Her roommate held Ashleigh’s friends hostage, but one of them escaped and called the police.
Emergency services flew Ashleigh to the hospital, but she and Patience passed away surrounded by loved ones.
The judge sentenced Ashleigh’s roommate to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of his mother’s boyfriend, Ashleigh, and Patience.
“I owe it all to God for helping me grieve and showing me my purpose,” Tara said.
With fervent prayers, she demanded answers, and God showed her through scripture passages and people.
“There was no cell signal at that church,” she said. “Every time I finished praying and left, my phone would get texts giving me the answer I was asking God for.”
Tara said her daughter’s visits in her dreams and God’s answers convinced her the right purpose was to become an advocate.
“I never would have imagined myself speaking at events or even become president,” she said.
Now, Tara serves as the president of the Board of Directors at BTSADV and is a national speaker. She shares her story to help as many survivors as she can. She also started Ashleigh’s Patience Project to raise awareness about domestic violence.
“I don’t have to keep Ashleigh’s memory alive,” she said. “She is alive — I see her everywhere and in all the things I do.”
You can participate in the Angel Fund no matter where you live by donating to Ashleigh and Patience’s scholarship. Your active presence from July 1 to 22 could make a huge difference in the life of a survivor. You can find their scholarship page here or text “Angel2214” to 71777.