CLEARWATER — Debbie Tuckey had been keeping an eye on her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend for the past week, ever since the couple moved in to her Clearwater home.
Tuesday night, when Jeanine A. Tuckey and Jeremy Haygood went into the back yard of the house on Kingsley Street, Debbie Tuckey thought they just needed a moment to talk.
But about 8:40 p.m., Haygood ran into the house and told her to call 911. He wouldn't say why.
Tuckey found her 5-foot-tall daughter unconscious in the yard.
It wasn't until they got to the hospital, she said, that Haygood said what he'd done to his girlfriend of three years.
Eleven hours after the beating, Jeanine Tuckey died from severe head injuries.
Haygood, already a fugitive from Missouri, was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder.
According to Clearwater police, the argument began over a relationship Tuckey, 33, had with another man in Missouri.
Haygood, 27, head-butted Tuckey, knocking her to the ground. When she got up, Haygood choked her and then kicked her legs out from under her, causing her to fall and hit her head. Haygood elbowed Tuckey three times in the chest, an arrest report states.
"I would have never dreamed he would have done something like this to her," said Debbie Tuckey. "We didn't hear nothing. (She) never screamed, never hollered for help."
The trouble in the relationship was brewing for a while, according to Debbie Tuckey. She said her daughter was homesick living in Missouri and had confided in her that Haygood abused her. But Jeanine Tuckey wouldn't move to Florida without him.
Everyone in the house knew Haygood was running from the law. According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, Haygood was released from prison in August after serving time on a charge of drunken driving. On Oct. 30, he was listed as a parole absconder and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Wednesday afternoon, Debbie Tuckey struggled to comprehend the events of the night before. Her daughter was, for the most part, happy and jolly, she said. She went to high school in Sidney, N.Y., and moved around the country. For five years, she worked at a local Wal-Mart with her mother.
Craft projects, particularly quilting, were her favorite hobbies, her mother said.
Tuckey leaves behind a 6-year-old son, Brett Lowe, who lives with his father in Arkansas.
"I wanted to protect her," Debbie Tuckey said. "I didn't do a very good job."
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jonathan Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.