HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A local family hopes to keep their loved one’s name alive after nearly two decades.

Before marrying and moving to Canada with her family, Susan ‘Susie’ Kilby studied here in Virginia.

“She was just a very vivacious personality and very witty,” said her little sister Jackie Overton. “She smiled all the time. Everybody loved her.”

Susie, 40, is remembered as devoted mother to her two children, Cameron and Caleigh.

“She was just an amazing woman,” Overton said. “She was always a hardworking woman. She had some wit about her.”

The sisters were very close, often talking on the phone.

“She’d call and we’d talk late at night after the kids went to bed,” Overton said. “We didn’t get to see her that often. We saw her at holidays from the time she moved to Canada.”

Following her sister’s marriage in 1996, Overton recalls signs of abuse.

“He was very jealous and controlling,” Overton said. “He had to know where she was all the time. That was before cell phones. She pretty much felt like she couldn’t leave her little apartment.”

She added: “He would be very verbally abusive to her. There were many times when I talked to her on the phone after she had Cameron, the first baby, where she would be just hiding in the bedroom with the door shut with him. While he was berating her through the door, I could hear it on the phone. He was always really difficult. She felt like she wanted to get a job so that she could at least get out some and have something that was hers.”

“The signs were there,” she said. “There were many times where she called the police, and the police came. He ran out in the backyard and climbed up a tree. Or she would leave and go to take the kids to his parents’ house and go to a battered women’s shelter just to be able to get away.”

Over the years, their parents could see the abuse escalating. 

“Our dad went to Canada because he knew that she needed to have his protection when she told him she was going to leave,” Overton said. “He went and helped her move out. We tried to get her to come home, but she just wanted to do the right thing.”

On Sunday Oct. 24, 2004, “there must have been a situation where she was feeling really fearful,” Overton said. 

“On the 911 call, they could hear her saying ‘tell the kids to go get in the van.’ At some point the kids did go out,” she said. “They found Caleigh in the van. But Cameron was sitting on the porch right outside the door. He did say that he could hear her screaming. She must have gone down [to the basement] to get some laundry before she left, and he just came up behind her.”

Kilby died of blunt force trauma to the head after being attacked with a hammer. 

Her daughter Caleigh was 5-years-old at the time. 

“I just remembered really small snippets of things like sitting in the van that day,” said her daughter, Caleigh Kilby. “My brother being with me at some point and just telling me ‘that it was going to be OK.’ I remember the police showing up and just my dad walking down the driveway.”

The two children eventually moved to Hampton Roads to live with Overton and her family. The family has a memorial garden for Susie with fall blooming camellias.

“It’s nice when this anniversary of her death and her birthday come around that there were flowers blooming out there that are like, She’s still here,” Caleigh Kilby said.

Jackie is hopeful Susie’s story will help women see the signs of abuse.

“I want young women to be able to understand what a healthy relationship is,” she said. “To understand if they see even the smallest of signs of whether they’re controlling, jealous, harassing or following them. Speaking to them in a way that’s just not respectful. Those are all signs that are not part of a healthy relationship.”

Susie’s ex husband was found guilty of second-degree murder. He served about 15 years in prison in Canada.

If you or someone you know needs help:

Avalon Center in Williamsburg

Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence

  • Hotline number: 757-787-1329
  • Offers: emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis hotline, individual counseling, safety planning, children’s services, legal advocacy, accompaniment during hospital visits and court appearances and support groups to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Website: https://www.escadv.org/

Samaritan House Inc. in Virginia Beach

  • Phone: 757-631-0710
  • Offers counseling, emergency shelter placement and safety planning.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline 757-430-2120

H.E.R. Shelter in Portsmouth

The Genieve Shelter in Suffolk

  • Phone: 757-925-4365
  • Offers emergency shelter and crisis services.
  • Crisis Hotline 757-705-2025 or 757-353-1439
  • Contáctanos para ayuda inmediata 1-800-969-4673
  • Website: https://thegenieveshelter.org/

Transitions Family Violence Services in Hampton

  • Phone: 757-722-2261
  • Offers emergency shelter, crisis services, court advocacy, and counseling.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline 757-723-7774
  • Website: https://www.transitionsfvs.org/

YWCA South Hampton Roads in Norfolk

  • Phone: 757-625-4248
  • Offers emergency shelter and crisis services.
  • 24-hour Crisis Hotline 757-251-0144
  • Website: https://www.ywca-shr.org/

National Human Trafficking Task Force Hotline: 1-888-3737-888.  

Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force: 757-430-2120

Blue Campaign to bring an end to Human Trafficking

Prevent Child Abuse America – Coronavirus Resources & Tips for Parents, Children & Others.

Child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on its victims. For more information on preventing child abuse and neglect check out resources from the CDCor call The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 for help.