Police say Trina Winston died at the hands of her husband, Tarrance Lee, of Mishawaka. As yet, her body has not been found. Thursday, Winston’s family and friends wore white at a vigil to symbolize her innocence.
Winston’s family and friends say she is now an angel in heaven … a woman they say didn't deserve to be murdered. Dozens sang for help and prayed for her homecoming.
"We accept the death. We want her body home," said Winston’s brother, the Rev. Derrick Gene Weaver.
"What happened to my sister, I don't want to see it happen here or anywhere," said Traci Winston.
Court documents said Tarrance Lee told his friends he killed Trina because she filed for divorce and he thought she cheated on him.
"Tarrance said he loved my sister,” said Weaver. “He didn't love her.”
Lee has a violent past. In 1986, he was convicted of murdering two people. In 2010, authorities say he faced charges in a deadly car accident. Now, he's charged with Winston's murder.
Family members said Winston’s death was preventable.
"He was just an evil person," Traci Winston said. Family members describe Lee and Winston as having an abusive relationship. Earlier this year, Winston filed for divorce, but later reconciled with Lee.
"I seen bruises and marks on her," Traci Winston said.
“She told me she was afraid," Weaver said, noting she reached out to police for help. "Why didn't police arrest him?" he asked.
Police said Winston reported the abuse, but wouldn't cooperate in prosecuting Lee.
“He murdered once before and now he's out and murdered again. That’s not right," Weaver said.
In 2003, court documents indicated Lee had good behavior in prison for 21 years, so his sentence was reduced. He was released from jail in 2006.
Winston's brother and sister said the court made a wrong call. They hope her death is a wake-up call for police and others in abusive relationships.
"If you think love is someone hitting on you, calling you names, that’s not love," Winston’s sister said.
Lee is in St. Joseph County Jail. A hearing is set for Aug. 28.