One moment she laughed, thinking of her younger sisters.
The next moment, a picture of the two young women in happier times - holding golf clubs and standing at their father’s side - jarred Dalee Turner and she couldn’t stop the tears.
“I love them so much, it kills my heart,” she said Wednesday. “It’s killing my heart, Uncle Rock.”
Turner, 26, was hugged by her uncle, Rock Nelson. He urged a dozen family members gathered in his Spokane Valley home to stay strong in the face of tragedy.
Nelson’s 22-year-old niece, Telisha Shaver, was raped and beaten to death with a baseball bat last weekend in the Valley, according to sheriff’s detectives. Younger sister Venus Shaver, 19, is recovering from head wounds suffered in the attack.
Venus’ friend, 18-year-old Jade Moore, also was raped and fatally beaten.
“For this to happen is such a loss,” said Nelson, whose eyes sometimes welled with tears.
Relatives of the victims spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time Wednesday night, fondly recalling Venus and Telisha’s sparkling personalities.
Sherry and Roger Shaver didn’t attend the emotional remembrance. They were holding vigil at their daughter’s bedside in a local hospital.
“My poor folks. They’re not getting a chance to grieve because they’re still worrying about Venus,” Turner said.
The man accused of the bloodshed, Dwayne A. Woods, 25, is behind bars in the Spokane County Jail. Woods, who has a history of violence against women, had been dating Venus in recent weeks, authorities said.
Her family hadn’t heard of him.
“Telisha didn’t know him at all,” said Larry Gamboa, the slain woman’s boyfriend.
Telisha returned last month from working as a caddie in Palm Springs, Calif.
She planned to spend the summer as a caddie at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. Telisha also had helped get Venus a summer job at the resort.
“If you only knew how awesome Telisha was,” Turner said. “I feel sorry for people who didn’t know Telisha.”
Telisha met her boyfriend a few years ago. She taught her boyfriend how to golf, but vowed never to let him win.
“I beat her twice, back to back,” he said.
Telisha blamed the losses on a tetanus shot she received that day.
Venus wasn’t as avid a golfer as Telisha. She learned sign language and even taught her whole family the sign for ‘I love you.’
Family members didn’t want to talk about the brutal attacks or the accused killer.
“We don’t want to do anything to harm the investigation or to hinder the prosecution of this guy to the fullest extent of the law,” Nelson said.
“As tragic as this is, we’re not going to let this destroy us.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo