TAMPA — When Ashley Atherley's husband moved their family from Hillsborough County to California a year ago, he sold Ashley's car and took her away from her friends and family.
It was a sign of control, Ashley's family says — an ominous act of isolation months before, police say, Edly Atherley, 29, would murder his wife.
On Thursday, Ashley's family and friends gathered in Tampa to plead for the public's help in their search for the killer. San Bernardino, Calif. police have put out a warrant for Edly Atherley's arrest on murder. They say he stabbed his 28-year-old wife to death in his home about a month after she left him.
Police found her on Dec. 1. The couple had two daughters together, ages 2 and 5.
Ashley's family say Edly Atherley has ties to the Tampa Bay area, as well as Port Charlotte, Fla., Texas, California and Belize.
"We need justice for our daughter," Ashley's mother, Lucia Robles, said. "He took everything from us."
Ashley was born in Hillsborough, grew up in Valrico and attended Bloomingdale High School. She taught dance and wanted to be a high school history teacher.
She had just received her associate's degree and was planning to attend the University of South Florida, her mother said. Then, Edly Atherley decided the family would move.
Ashley's parents never liked Edly. Though Ashley did not admit it, they knew he was emotionally and physically abusing her.
Robles sent her daughter website links with information about domestic violence. She told her to assemble a packet of important documents so she could flee at a moment's notice.
Ashley finally did leave him in October. But that can be the most dangerous time, explained Mindy Murphy, the director of The Spring of Tampa Bay, a domestic violence shelter.
Murphy recommends that victims reach out to their local shelter to devise a safe plan for leaving, which takes into account each person's unique circumstances.
Edly Atherley's criminal history includes a November 2008 charge of domestic violence in Hillsborough County. In 2005, he was arrested on a domestic battery charge in Charlotte County, according to state records.
Asked if he had a message for Edly Atherley, Ashley's father, Scott Hall did:
"Put up a fight," he said. "I want him taken dead. I know a lot of people don't want to hear that. But I don't want to see him get a fair trial."
Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.