PERRY -- Ashley Wolfe remembers a time in December when she was stressed and overwhelmed with school. Her sister, Jessica Wolfe, gave her a card, telling her to “hang in there and believe in yourself,” Ashley Wolfe said.
In the wake of the shooting death of Jessica Wolfe on March 18, Ashley Wolfe often re-reads her sister’s note, hoping it will ease the pain of her loss. Ashley Wolfe struggled through tears Friday during the “Silent No More” domestic violence vigil at the Houston County Courthouse, where she encouraged victims to speak up before it’s too late.
“I want to get the word out that you shouldn’t be silent,” said Ashley Wolfe, of Warner Robins. “Don’t let anyone isolate you from your friends, your family.”
That’s what happened to her sister, Ashley Wolfe said. The 27-year-old was shot to death inside the home of her boyfriend, Russell Holt. An autopsy later showed Jessica Wolfe died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, and Holt was charged with malice murder and felony murder in connection with her death. He was indicted in June.
Holt says an intruder knocked him unconscious on the morning his girlfriend was shot.
“Things will never be the same,” Ashley Wolfe said.
In the past year, 69 Georgia residents ages 12 to 69 have died as a result of domestic violence, said Helen Rhea Stumbo, chairwoman of The Salvation Army of Central Georgia.
Vigils like Friday’s “are very important because it’s a visible way to make people aware of the issue,” she said after the event.
George Hartwig, Houston County district attorney, called for the community to understand the issue, recognize the warning signs and help decrease domestic violence.
“It’s not a police problem. It’s not a prosecution problem. It’s not a programs problem. It’s a sin problem -- it’s darkness of the heart,” he said. “We’ve got to change people’s hearts first of all and make them into people who don’t want to ... commit a crime.” About 70 community members attended the vigil, many wiping away tears and wearing shirts that read, “Justice for Jessica.” Jessica Wolfe was a legal assistant for the Houston County District Attorney’s Office.
“A lot of these folks here are related to victims,” Stumbo said, “so it’s a comfort to know the people they loved and lost are not forgotten.”
Ashley Wolfe spends most of her nights wondering what she could have done to convince her sister to leave her situation, she said. But she now realizes it’s her job to convince other victims to seek help before it’s too late, she said.
“When those candles are lit, the only thing that might be brighter was her smile,” she said.
To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.