TAMPA — Jasmine Bedwell loved her baby. In early April, afraid a boyfriend would hurt her 3-month-old, she sent little Emanuel Murray home with a friend for a week.
But this week, the violence caught up to her and her son.
"I love my baby with all my heart, and Emanuel was the only thing else I had left in life," Bedwell said in an e-mail exchange with a St. Petersburg Times reporter. "I can't believe he's gone."
Bedwell's ex-boyfriend, Richard Anthony McTear, attacked her, threw her baby on a concrete floor and then drove off with him early Tuesday, deputies said. Emanuel's lifeless body was found on Interstate 275. Authorities said the baby had been thrown from the car.
McTear, caught a few hours later, remains jailed facing 10 charges, including first-degree murder.
In Bedwell's e-mails late Wednesday, the 17-year-old mother wrote about the pain she has endured since early Tuesday.
"I am just really hurt," she said. "Not just bodywise, but feelings, too."
It was the latest blow to a life that had been rough from the start. She was abused by caretakers all her life, said Jeff Rainey, president and CEO of Hillsborough Kids Inc., a government contracted child support service.
She ran away from home at least 21 times, Tampa police records show. She has been arrested 10 times, including a battery charge at age 11, according to records.
As a fifth-grader, she fought with her mother, who told a boyfriend to call police. Lillie Bedwell said her daughter had shoved and punched her in the ribs over chores, a Tampa police report said.
Social workers intervened in Jasmine Bedwell's life when she was about 14. She was defiant at first, Rainey said. Hillsborough Kids put her in counseling.
At 17, she gave birth to Emanuel. The father, Emanuel Wesley Murray, 22, was soon out of the picture, imprisoned in January on weapons charges, according to state prison records.
Jasmine Bedwell wanted to give her child a good life, and case workers saw her turn around dramatically in recent months, Rainey said.
They helped her get her own apartment and gave her bus passes, because she didn't have a car.
They helped her enroll full time at an adult learning center. Bedwell went to parent training programs and enrolled in Healthy Start, all on her own volition, Rainey said.
She asked Hillsborough Kids for diapers and formula when she ran out.
"From everyone we talked to," Rainey said, "she was a very good mother."
But she became involved with McTear, 21, who moved into her home early this year.
They had similar experiences.
McTear, too, had fought his mother. At 16, he cornered and hit Jackie L. Patton on the left side of her face when she tried to break up a fight between him and his then-girlfriend, Tampa police reported.
Later that year, Patton tried to defend herself with a knife, and he punched and kicked her multiple times in the face and stomach, leaving her bleeding from the mouth, police reported.
This year, Bedwell told authorities that she, too, had been targeted by McTear, now 21, whose record was filled with domestic violence arrests.
In early April, she told investigators that his beatings sent her to the hospital, according to a Department of Children and Families report released Thursday.
She told them he twice kicked in her door and threatened to come back with a gun, the report said.
Hillsborough County sheriff's child protection investigators determined that she was taking the right steps to protect herself and her son. She had called the Sheriff's Office when McTear threatened her. She signed a safety plan and applied for a temporary injunction or restraining order with the help of Hillsborough Kids.
On April 7, she went to court along with a case worker, filled out paperwork and stood in front of a judge, who granted her request, Rainey said.
But that was only part of the process.
McTear would need to be told the judge's order.
Process servers couldn't find him.
After 15 days, Bedwell had to return to court to let the judge know she still wanted a restraining order.
This time, she didn't return the next day to pick up paperwork, as required.
It was a difficult task for a young mother and student dependent on buses and rides, Rainey said.
Had she picked up her paperwork, she might have known a hearing had been scheduled for Monday.
She didn't attend the hearing.
Neither did McTear. Again, he couldn't be located.
Early Tuesday, McTear showed up at Bedwell's home one final time, deputies said.
"This is tragic," Rainey said. "The week before, she had agreed to move out of that apartment, and we worked with her and she had found a new apartment that she was going to move into."
He said Bedwell did everything she could to protect Emanuel.
Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.