Mother of domestic violence victim shares her story

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By: Shonda Knight
September 26, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- We recently spoke with Barbara Strickland who is sharing her story in hopes of preventing another tragedy.

"My daughter had many friends, outgoing, independent," says Strickland.

Leslie Drew was a beautiful 28-year-old single mother and college student when she met who she thought was the man of her dreams.

29-year-old Steven Stubbs was handsome, working on his master's degree, and had a great job as CFO of a local credit union.

"Even though he was a business suit, a wing tip, great job, bright... there was just something there, something underlying that just did not feel right with me," says Strickland.

But she admits, he was charismatic.

The relationship moved fast. The couple moved in together, and Leslie started to change.

"She would ask for permission to do things, and this was a young woman that was very independent," says Strickland.

She says her daughter's friends noticed a difference too. They would call her saying they couldn't reach Leslie because her phone number had change.

Leslie's co-workers say she started wearing long sleeves to work.

And there's more.

"Her tires were slashed. And we knew then, that that was a violent act. We did not realize that just two weeks later, she would be murdered," says the grieving mother.

Only five months into the relationship, police say Stubbs shot Leslie and dumped her body in the Apalachicola National Forest.

When police came for him he barricaded himself inside the house and committed suicide.

Barbara says there were lots of red flags, but the relationship happened so fast. And she never thought he'd kill her daughter.

"She never confided in me. She just explained that they were under a lot of stress, both of them were attending school, getting their degrees... and that as soon as all of this was over, things would be, you know, back to normal with their relationship," says Strickland.

Her daughter was murdered nearly seven years ago, but the pain is still raw. Leslie was Barbara's only child.

"Time just eases the pain, but the pain is always there. There's always tears behind the eyes. You can be smiling on the outside. But I go to bed every night with her on my mind, I think of her, and I wake up in the mornings, and I think of her," says Strickland.

Strickland will be the guest speaker at the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council’s annual dinner.

The event is Tuesday, September 27th at 6 p.m. at FSU Stadium, Building C, Miller Hall, 3rd Floor.

For more information, you can call (850) 222-3845.

Shonda’s full interview with a domestic violence expert can be viewed in the video player at the top of this page, following Barbara's story.