Delilah and Persephone had been living in the household of Martin “Mac” Crawford for not quite eighteen months. His violence toward Persephone had escalated to several beatings a week, always in a drunken rage, and quite a bit of verbal abuse directed at Delilah. One evening, she was working on a school project at the kitchen table when Mac stumbled in, demanding dinner. Seeing the table full of Delilah’s papers and pens, he flew into a rage and began ripping up the pages and breaking the pencils and pens. When Delilah intervened to stop him, he backhanded her, knocking her to the ground.
Persephone jumped in between Mac and Delilah and pounded Mac with her fists, screaming, “Don’t you ever put your dirty hands on my little girl again.”
Mac was caught off guard by her defiance and stumbled out of the kitchen. Delilah heard the front door slam and Mac’s car start outside.
Persephone knelt beside her daughter and hugged her tightly. “Oh, baby girl. I am so sorry I got you into this mess.”
“That’s okay, Mama. It’s not your fault.”
“You go pack some things. We’re going to go stay with Wanda.”
Delilah went to her room and got out her big suitcase. She emptied her dresser and was in the process of emptying her closet when she heard a commotion outside. She cracked the door to her room and could hear Mac’s voice coming from the room he and her mother shared. She crept down the hall and peered through the half open door. Mac was standing with his back to the door, pointing a gun at Persephone, who was shaking her head. An open suitcase was on the bed, filled with clothes.
“Mac, you put that down and get out of my way.”
“You ain’t going nowhere,” he said, halfway between pleading and angry.
“Give me the gun,” she said, taking a step toward Mac with her hand out.
Now, with much more anger, Mac said, “You ain’t walking out of here alive and neither is that girl. I’ll kill her right in front of you, I will.”
Persephone lunged at Mac screaming, but all Delilah heard were two shots in rapid succession. Persephone dropped to her knees, then fell face down against the bed.
“Mama!” Delilah cried out. Mac turned toward the door.
“You little bitch,” he said. “You’re next.”
Delilah ran into the living room and hid behind the large recliner against the wall. She could hear the door to the bedroom hit the wall as Mac flung it open.
“Where you at?” Mac yelled. “You ain’t getting out of here.”
His footsteps grew louder as he entered the living room. He yelled from near the couch. “Come out from behind there.”
Trapped behind the chair, with no place to run and no way to fight off her step-father, Delilah did the only thing she could think to do. She threw her voice. She shrieked, “Leave me alone!” only she made it sound like it was coming from the direction of the hall closet.
And it worked.
Mac heard her and stumbled to the closet, throwing open the door and leaning in. “Come on out, you little bitch!”
Delilah rushed toward Mac and threw her entire weight against him, knocking him into the closet. She slammed the door behind him and propped a chair under the door handle. She could hear him yelling, “Dammit! You open this door you bitch.”
Delilah fled the house and ran next door for help.
When the police arrived, Delilah led them to the front steps and told them where to find Mac. Then an officer waited with her in the yard until she heard over the radio, “Suspect has been disarmed and is in custody.”
The officers led Mac out, stopping a few feet from where Delilah stood.
“Is this the man who hurt your mother?” the lead officer said.
“Yes, sir. He shot my Mama,” she said, pointing at Mac. “I seen him. I saw it all.”
She was taken to the police station where she gave them the full story. Her aunt Wanda arrived to take responsibility for Delilah and to make arrangements for Persephone. Months later, after Delilah repeated her story at the trial, Mac was sentenced to life without parole.
Wanda was named Delilah’s guardian.