Bianca Tanner case raises domestic violence awareness - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Bianca Tanner case raises domestic violence awareness

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Bianca Tanner always wanted to be a teacher.  While she was alive, she lived that dream. Family members say her death is a lesson for others and it's raising public awareness about domestic violence.

Her family addressed a crowd at vigil in Tanner's memory Wednesday. "You have a voice so please use it," said Cerise Richardson, Tanner's sister. "No one deserves to be in any type of domestic violence situation," said Richardson.

Her words came just one day before those who help domestic violence victims held a march in Tanner's memory through uptown Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County has a 24 hour hotline to help people escape domestic violence: 704-332-2513.

There's also a national hotline victims can call who live in other counties: 800-779-SAFE (7233).

Tanner, a  31 year old mother and teacher, had only been in Charlotte for a week when she went missing in June. Police suspected that her boyfriend, Angelo Smith Junior killed her. After three weeks of investigating, detectives found Tanner's remains in a wooded area. Smith is now facing first degree murder charges.

Smith, Jr. also had a history of domestic violence issues with several other women according to court documents.

At one point, the public saw Smith head to jail in a fraternity T-shirt.

"It was a little disgraceful. I feel for members of Kappa Alpha Psi" said Bobby Evans, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. "It didn't really represent well with the Greek organizations because we really do a lot of good work in the community."

"Sometimes there are so many negative stereotypes about Greek lettered organizations – particularly in the African American community – that it was embarrassing" said Rashele McConnell of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

So the black Greek lettered organizations decided to take up the cause of domestic violence.

Organizers said "this is not just a moment. This is a movement."

Richardson told the crowd gathered outside Little Rock A.M.E  Zion Church in Charlotte that  "I met her {Bianca's} boyfriend. We had several encounters and I did have reservations. But I felt like you know it's her life. She chose to be with this person so obviously she saw something in him. And I didn't say anything and that's what I kick myself in the butt for every single day."

She pleaded with people to speak up if they suspect someone is in an abusive relationship.

"I ask you today that if you anyone who is in a situation – even if you don't know, if you think – be that voice. That's the one thing to this day I regret."

The vigil is first time Bianca's relatives spoke publicly since her remains were found last Thursday morning.  

"She got to live her dream and passion which was teaching" her sister said. "Ever since we were little kids she has always wanted to be an educator. We would play school and she always had to be the teacher. I find comfort knowing she served her purpose."

Family, friends, and Greek lettered organizations are working to make sure people learn from Bianca's death.

They released balloons with Bianca's picture tied to them.

"When it comes down we want people to know why it went up. We want them to know who it went up for."

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