NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News family is working to break the cycle of abuse.

Nekaybaw Scott, 27, will be remembered as a “joy” for her family and friends.

“The thing [I loved] about Nekaybaw is her smile,” said her mom, Nikitia Royal. “You can have the worst day. It could be the gloomiest day. That child would come into a room and light up the room with so much sunshine just from smiling. She had the deepest dimples, the brightest smile. Always [had] something funny or quirky to say. [Or] something a little smart to say, she was a little smarty pants and she loved to joke.”

Scott enjoyed working at the Department of Social Services in Hampton. 

“I was proud of the woman that she was becoming. She lived life to the absolute fullest,” Royal said. 

The mom-daughter duo became best friends over the years. The two talked every day about everything, including who she was dating.

After noticing red flags in her new relationship, Royal told her daughter, “you have to be careful, separate concern from control. It’s a big difference.”

Watch: WAVY’s extended interview with Nikitia Royal

On Nov. 7, 2022, Newport News police were called to Sentara Careplex after Scott was attacked by the man she was dating at the time. 

Court documents show Scott was attacked during an argument at her apartment on Newsome Drive. Police report Adjascent White stabbed her twice with scissors, strangled her and pointed a gun at her head.  The two had been dating for one month.

“Scott stated she was punched in the face by White and choked… 

Scott stated White had his hands grasped along her neck to the point she could not breathe… 

Scott stated White pointed a handgun at Scott’s head, threatening to shoot her…”

Royal was working at the same hospital at the time, so she ran to comfort her daughter.

“A few days prior to that, Nekaybaw was pregnant and she had a miscarriage,” Royal said. “I’m really not quite sure what the argument was actually about at that time, but she was already going through a lot. It was really hurt me that this happened after she had just had such a traumatic experience.”

The Newport News criminal complaint shows White was arrested following the November assault.

“Nekaybaw had a chance to go to court and say about and talk about the incident that happened back in November, but she you chose not to,” Royal said. “She chose to set him free because she felt like she was taking him away from his kids. She had a big heart. He was calling her from jail and telling her, ‘I’m sorry, I love you.’ ‘I never meant to hurt you.’ ‘I will never hurt you again.’ ‘I missed Christmas with my kids and my kid’s birthday is coming up.’ She fed into his manipulation, as so many women do, because we want to feel like this person is going to change. We want to feel like they love me enough to never hurt me. We want to feel like maybe this was a one-time thing and maybe he was just angry. We want to feel like we can change people because we have such a big heart. We want to feel like, you know, ‘I can love him enough to change them, and he’s not going to treat me the way he treated [others].’ But you can’t. If a person is going to change, they’re going to change because they want to. It’s nothing that someone can do to make someone change.”

White was released from jail in January, according to Royal. On Feb. 7, Royal received a call saying Scott did not show up to work. She then rushed to Scott’s apartment on Newsome Drive while calling the Newport News police on the way.

“When I pulled into her apartment complex, I drove around to where she normally parks the car,” Royal said. “I saw her car. My heart dropped because she’s not at work. No one talked to her. She didn’t answer when I called her on my lunch break. Something’s wrong. When I entered the building of her apartment, because she stayed upstairs, once I started taking the stairs to go up, I could already see her body lying on the foyer and then when I got up there, she was already gone.”

The following day, court records show Newport News police questioned White. The Newport News homicide unit notes White had several “wounds on both hands.” During the interview, White said “he had not seen Nekaybaw for approximately three weeks” and he had a “good relationship with Nekaybaw.” Detectives addressed inconsistencies in his statement and “being at the crime scene before, during and after the murder, based on the wounds on his hands and the blood inside the apartment.” After the interview, White was released the same day.

“I know that she fought for her life, but you can’t beat a bullet,” Royal said.

The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined her cause of death was a gunshot wound to the shoulder and torso. A knife was found under her body at the crime scene.

Three months later on May 16, Hampton police report White attacked a different woman at a hotel on Coliseum Drive after he was denied sex. A criminal complaint outlines her injuries were so severe that her eye socket bone was broken, and she was held against her will for 15-30 minutes.

“When they told me, I wasn’t surprised, I talked to that young lady and I just told her, you are very lucky and blessed to be able to get out of there with your life,” Royal said. “Essentially he could have been in jail. But if they had jumped the gun and maybe arrested him on charges that they there was only circumstantial and they didn’t have solid evidence that was going to stick and keep him where he needed to be.”

Hampton police charged White with abduction by force, malicious wounding and assault.

Two days after the assault in Hampton, DNA matched the Newport News crime scene from February. White was arrested on May 20. White is charged with second-degree murder and a gun charge.

“This guy had a pattern of hurting women and manipulating them into not [following] all the way through with pressing charges,” Royal said. “He had a way of talking to them and making them feel loved. That he cared about them and that he was truly sorry and eventually he was going to actually hurt someone. I’m just sorry that it had to be my daughter.”

She visits her daughter’s gravesite every week, missing the conversations and fun times the two shared. 

“It’s hard to get up every day and go to work and keep a smile on your face,” Royal said. “I have to be courteous. I have to smile, even when I feel so broken on the inside, I have to smile at to push myself, even when I feel like I want to go into a dark place and crawl under a rock or go into a dark corner and never come out. I can’t. I have another child, a son. I can’t give up because he needs me just as much as she needed me.”

Royal wants those in a toxic relationship to recognize manipulation and stand strong in your decision to leave.

“I need the young women out here to understand that you have to love yourself more than you love the person that you’re with,” Royal said.

White has several upcoming court dates.

“I have to fight for her,” Royal said. “She’s not here to fight.”

Royal attends monthly meetings with the NNPD homicide support group and the newly formed Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She will also attend the Oct. 20 walk to end domestic violence.

History of Abuse

10 On Your Side’s Investigations team found that White has a history of abuse in Hampton.

In May 2018, Hampton police reported that he pointed a gun at his mom. After brandishing the weapon, his mom went to Hampton Police headquarters to report threatening messages to “shoot” her and her husband. 

The following year in April 2019, Hampton police reported that White attacked his mom. Police reported that White “began punching her and broke her rear window, threw a tire at her and hit her in the back of the head with a hub cap.” When White’s sister tried to help their mom, White “grabbed her by the throat.” Then drove toward his mom, “she believed White was trying run her over.” White was charged with assault, destruction of property and banishing a weapon. 

In January 2021, Hampton police said he threatened to kill the mother of his child, her family and children. The criminal complaint shows she received social media messages saying “I’m going to shoot.”

White was convicted of felony threatening months later in October 2021. Judge Christopher Hutton imposed a five-year sentence, but suspended the sentence with the following conditions: good behavior, supervised probation, no contact with woman or her family and completion of an anger management program with the Community Corrections Division. 

Yet in September 2022, a man filed a police report in Hampton claiming White pointed a gun at him. White’s ex-girlfriend was dating the man at the time.

If you or you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse, click here for a list of local and national resources.