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Daughter speaks out about domestic violence after mother killed in Chesapeake

Chesapeake police said they found 58-year-old Valarie McElroy stabbed to death inside her apartment Sunday night.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Tuesday, Chesapeake police released the name of a woman killed in a domestic violence incident in Chesapeake.

Police said they found 58-year-old Valarie McElroy stabbed to death inside her apartment Sunday night.

“Every room she walked in, she lit up and she just made sure to extend love and grace to everyone around her,” said McElroy’s daughter Candice Daniels.

Daniels said an early call on Monday changed her life forever.

“My uncle told us that my mother was stabbed to death by the man that she used to see,” Daniels said.

Police said a welfare check on Sunday night led them to McElroy’s apartment. Court documents said police officers entered through an open window and noticed a loveseat blocking the front door.

Inside, investigators also found 61-year-old Anthony Johnson unconscious with a knife by his hand and injuries to his wrists and thighs, according to court documents.

Police charged Johnson with first-degree murder. The documents said he is expected to make a full recovery. Documents go on to say Johnson told police he doesn’t know what happened or understand his charges.

“They were seeing each other on and off,” Daniels said. “They were boyfriend and girlfriend at one time, but I know they broke it off.”

Daniels said her mother had known Johnson for a few years. She said they didn’t have any past issues, but over the last few weeks, her mother said Johnson was trying to come around more.

“I was starting to hear about him popping up at my mother’s job and showing up at her house unannounced,” Daniels said. “I know my mother was telling me how he was trying to overstay his welcome.”

Daniels said she wishes her mother confided in her more.

“Me and my sister would always tell her we don’t have a good feeling about him,” Daniels said. “So, I think when things started to get really real, she kind of held back from us because she didn’t want us to be upset or worried or overreact.”

Now, Daniels is urging people noticing any red flags in their relationships to let someone know before it’s too late.

“Because had I known, I would have dropped everything and went down to Virginia to get my mother to make sure that she was safe, if I would have known that it was this severe,” Daniels said. “And you never know the lengths people with go for you and your safety if you don’t let them in and don’t let them know.”

Daniels and her family started a GoFund Me following her mother's death. 

A Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said Johnson is being held without bond. He is scheduled for a court hearing on February 1.

Hampton Roads has several domestic violence resources, including the organization Samaritan House.

Leaders there said they see an uptick in domestic violence incidents during the holiday season with increased drinking and family stress. But they are also still seeing impacts from mental health and housing issues that the pandemic created.

If someone is nervous about getting help, Samaritan House Executive Director Robin Gauthier said they can simply start with a phone call.

“Call the hotline and talk to someone,” Gauthier said. “It doesn’t mean you have to be committed to doing anything, to coming in. You don’t have to enter any of our shelters. You can speak with a victim advocate who can safety plan with you and can do an assessment and say hey these are the things you want to look out for.”

You can reach the Samaritan House’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 757-430-2120.

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