by Patrick H. Moore

You are a three-year-old girl and you live in a house in a place called Mascotte. You also live in a place called Florida which you understand is bigger than Mascotte so you don’t know where it starts and where it ends. Your house is on a busy road and sometimes you and your mom walk along the busy road on the way to your grandmother’s house. Because the road is busy, your mom walks on the outside close to the traffic while you walk on the inside away from the cars. Your mom holds your hand and sometimes she picks you up and carries you.

chilllYou have a dad too but he and your mom don’t live together. They used to when you were very little but that was a long time ago. You can talk pretty well now and your mom loves to tell you what a smart girl you are. You know that’s a good thing and you glow inside when she tells you that. Because you’re a smart girl you know a lot of words and one night you asked your mom why she and your dad don’t live together. She looks at you strangely and you can tell she doesn’t want to answer. You think maybe you shouldn’t have asked her but then she decides to answer and tells you that she and your dad can’t get along and that he used to be really mean to her.

childdd2Then you remember something you had forgotten or maybe it was just that you didn’t want to think about it. You remember the time your mom and dad got into a huge fight and they screamed at each other and then your dad hit your mom real hard. After that the policemen came in special white cars and they took your dad away and no one would tell you where they took him.

The he was gone for a long time and then he came back and he gave you a huge hug and you asked him not to go away again and he said he wouldn’t. But still he didn’t live with you and your mom and he only came around once in a while. Although he was always glad to see you somehow you knew that he wasn’t happy. Once you said, “Daddy, what’s wrong?” and he said “nothin’ darlin’” but you knew that something was wrong.

*     *     *     *     *

Then came the day you will never forget. Your dad came to your house and he gave you a big hug and you were very glad to see him but then he got real serious and you had the sinking feeling that something was even wrong than usual. Your mom said you and your dad were going to have a talk and then she set you up to watch an Ariel video. You love Ariel and you were riveted to the big screen but then after quite  a while you got hungry and you went to see your mom and she was lying on the floor in the family room and she didn’t look right and your dad wasn’t there any more and you got really scared.

chill6You knelt over your mom and said, “Mommy, I’m hungry” but she didn’t answer and you thought she was asleep and tried hard to wake her but she still didn’t stir and then you found yourself shouting at her, “MOMMY. MOMMY, WAKE UP!” but she didn’t wake up and you were terrified and you sprang to your feet and knew you had to get to your grandmother’s house really fast because you knew she would be able to wake your mom up because she was your grandmother and was good at nearly everything. So you raced to the door in your jeans with the flower patches sewed on the knees and your little top and your tennis shoes which you sort of knew how to tie and sort of didn’t. Your mom had tied them earlier in the morning and they were still snug.

 *     *     *     *     *

Outside the cars were whizzing by on the road really fast and you knew you weren’t supposed to be out there by yourself but you knew you had to get to your grandmother’s so that she could wake your mom up. You stayed as far off the road as you could and trotted along half-running, half-walking and you got tired really fast but you didn’t slow down and after a while it felt like your heart was going to pop right out of your chest and your side hurt but you still didn’t slow down. You didn’t know it but some of the people in the cars whizzing by were looking at you strangely and a couple of times people almost stopped but then thought better of it and kept on going.

When you got close to your grandmother’s house you slowed down and smoothed your hair and wished you had brought your comb because your grandmother always liked for you to look nice. When you saw her house up ahead you felt a rush of hope and then you really ran, your heart pounding and you climbed the chill5steps to her porch and knocked on the door shouting “Grandma, Grandma” and it took a minute but then she came to the door and she took one look at you and said, “Oh my God, child! Oh my God.” And you told her that your mom wouldn’t wake up and then you started crying — you’d been holding it in for all this time but it all burst out and then your grandma started crying too.

*     *     *     *     *

chillA three-year-old girl walked more than a mile down a busy Florida road to her grandmother’s house to get help after her father allegedly killed her mother, officials said tonight.

Sgt. Kristin Thompson of Lake Bay County Sheriff Department described the actions of the tragic toddler as “kind of heroic” and praised the little girl for managing to cover such a distance to raise help. The little girl knew the route to her grandmother’s house because she had walked it with her mother, Thompson said. “She went down to her grandmother’s and said she couldn’t get her mom to wake up.”

*      *      *      *      *

 The sheriff’s department named Johnny Lashawn Shipman, 36, as the suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest in the death of Kristi Lynne Delaney, 26, of Mascotte, 40 miles west of Orlando.


Updated: Johnny Lashawn Shipman was arrested in the days following his warrant.

Austin L. Miller of the Halifax Media Group writes:

Calm, with a serious expression and little to say, Lake County murder suspect Johnny Lashawn Shipman made his first court appearance via video camera from the Marion County Jail…

johnnyCounty Judge James McCune ordered Shipman, 36, held without bond on a warrant for the first-degree murder of Kristi Delaney, his 26-year-old girlfriend, who was found dead in Mascotte on Monday.

He was arrested by members of the Ocala Police Department’s Special Deployment Unit who received a tip on his whereabouts and went to the Fore Ranch area off Southwest State Road 200 in Ocala, where he was arrested without incident at about 4:55 p.m.

When OPD detectives Dan C. Clark and Jeff Hurst arrested Shipman, he had a shirt wrapped around his left hand, according to Clark’s report. In both hands, Shipman had a jacket, a Bible and a cross made out of Palmetto leaves.

He dropped the items, lay on the ground and put his arms out.


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