Trina Winston sought help from her sister several months ago after she said her husband, Tarrence Lee, placed a bag over her head, strangling her until she passed out, Traci Winston said.
The woman wiped off her legs, and ran for her life, Traci Winston said.
The Winston sisters filed a report with Mishawaka police, and Trina stayed at a women's shelter.
She survived the encounter with her husband then, but Trina's sisters and cousin clutched each other for support at a kitchen table Wednesday evening, as the woman is now presumed to be slain by her husband.
"He should have never crossed paths with my sister again," Traci Winston said Thursday, alternating between anger and bowing her head in tears while she told of her sister's abusive relationship that ultimately resulted in murder charges.
Traci Winston, her older sister Sheila Redding and a cousin, Darena Taylor, formed a circle around the table of Redding's South Bend home, asking how a man with a violent past was allowed back on the streets. Lee is a convicted murderer.
The youngest of four, Trina Winston has a third sister, Cecelia Winston, who is hospitalized for a nervous breakdown.
St. Joseph County prosecutors charged Lee, 49, with his wife's murder on Monday after the man's friends told police last week that he asked for their help in disposing the body.
The friends told officers Lee said he had the body in his living room at his apartment at 4228 Hickory Road in Mishawaka.
Lee, his brother and a friend then got rid of the body outside of the county, according to court documents.
Investigators have yet to find a body, though the search has extended into Illinois.
The charging documents indicate an abusive past, but say Trina Winston did not want to follow through with pressing charges against her husband, whom she was in the process of divorcing.
"I called them for my sister. They never picked him up," Traci Winston said, crying that she wished police did more to protect her sister. "The law has to change," she added.
The man has a violent history, as he has served time for two murder charges and an attempted murder charge for a 1986 double homicide, reportedly over drugs.
Lee was sentenced to two terms of 40 years for the slayings to be served concurrently. He served about 20 years and was released on parole in 2008.
"Why was he released?" Traci Winston asked. "The prosecutors are supposed to protect us."
Redding said Lee was working as a pastor, and had known her sister since high school.