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Neighbors breathe sigh of relief following Cola Beale's arrest, advocates raise awareness for violence prevention

While murder suspect Cola Beale sits in jail, some people who lived next to his alleged victims told 13News Now they will sleep a little easier at night.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Murder suspect Cola Beale, 30, was on the run from authorities for days. Some neighbors told 13News Now they feared for their own lives.

This case has also prompted community advocates to share a strong message about violence prevention.

RELATED: 'I snapped' | In second jailhouse interview, Cola Beale doubles down on lack of remorse

Nearly one week ago, Virginia Beach police found Clifton Baxter, 73, dead inside his home on Linda Court.

A neighbor who wished to remain anonymous described Baxter as "a very kind, caring and loving person."

She said she is heartbroken and shocked about the entire situation.

The neighbor went on to say she is relieved knowing Beale is behind bars, “I slept on the couch the entire time because we were all scared.”

"I snapped on my cousin [Downing McLean] for a simple reason. I snapped on my dad for a reason and I snapped on my girlfriend [Czavi'er Hill] for a different reason," Beale told 13News Now Reporter Eugene Daniel from jail on Thursday.

From jail, Beale spoke about his biological father who is also serving time.

"That was when I was locked up when I was doing my six years. He killed his wife," said Beale.

And that wasn't all.

"He tried to kill my mom when I was almost like what, six months old," Beale added.

Robin Gauthier with Virginia Beach-based nonprofit organization Samaritan House said there are ways to break cycles of violence. 

"As long as there is intervention and children can be helped, given services, then there is not an absolute they are going to become an abuser," said Gauthier.

She believes that bystanders play a crucial role.

“Please say something to that victim, slip them a phone number, let them know you’re concerned about their safety, let them know you care and that you’ll be there for them if they want to walk away.”

And Gauthier said there are also professionals who can help, if you spot red flags with a partner or relative, "we do danger assessments with anyone who contacts us on our [24/7 confidential] hotline at (757) 430-2120."

RELATED: 'I don't feel remorse' | Cola Beale, accused of 3 murders, talks in jail

And while she recognized that we may never know the full story behind Beale and his girlfriend's relationship, Gauthier hopes others hear this message loud and clear.

"When you have that gut feeling, that things are going well, aren't going right, follow that gut feeling and get out of that situation as quickly as you can," said Gauthier. 

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