By Lorie Love Hailey
One year ago, Meredith King and Cornelia Gayle Mullins were shot to death in their home on Hillsdale Avenue in Richmond.
Tonight, their families will conduct a candlelight vigil in their honor at the Madison County Courthouse, according to King’s mother, Sharlene Evans.
The vigil will include prayer and a few speakers, the lighting of the candles and a moment of silence. Everyone, even those who do not have a connection to the families, are invited, Evans said. Attendees are asked to bring their own candles.
Evans said the vigil is for both victims, and Mullins’ family has been invited. They live far away, she said, and may not be able to attend, but the vigil will honor Mullins, too.
Dealing with her daughter’s death has “sort of consumed me,” Evans said.
“A lot of people say, ‘I understand,’ but unless you’ve been there, you can’t understand,” she said. “You can sympathize, but not understand.”
It seems like her daughter is always with her, Evans said.
“When I wake of a morning, it’s like she is there,” she said. “Everywhere I go, she’s there.”
The bodies of King, 32, and Mullins, 55, were found in their home Dec. 4, 2010. John Payne, King’s boyfriend and Mullins’ son, later was arrested for their murder.
Each time Payne makes a court appearance, Evans, her husband and family fill the courtroom, wearing T-shirts with King’s photo on it. They say they want Payne to see them there.
Payne, who faces charges of capital murder, theft by unlawful taking, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and being a persistent felony offender, was set to be tried in Madison Circuit Court on Dec. 5, but the trial has been delayed.
Payne’s competency evaluation has not been completed, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith.
He remains in the Madison County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond.
A new trial date will be set for Payne, but there will never be answers to all of Evans’ questions, she said.
“Will we ever get an answer to really know what happened over there that night. There are no answers,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the good Lord, I couldn’t have made it through this year.”
Evans was very close with her daughter. That is how she knew something was wrong last year when she could not reach her for several days.
“I normally talked to my child five or six times a day,” she said. “If I called her and she didn’t answer, she’d call right back.”
Evans went to King’s home, but it appeared empty and the car was gone. She filed a missing person’s report on her daughter, but also told an officer that all three of home’s residents appeared to be missing.
On Dec. 4, 2010, Berea Police officers went to the Days Inn to arrested Payne on charges of non-compliance with the sex offender registry requirements, according to the police citation.
When Payne opened the door, he told the officers that he had shot King and Mullins, according to testimony in Madison District Court by Richmond Police Detective Keith Daniel.
Berea officers then notified Richmond Police, who sent a patrol officer to conduct the welfare check at the Hillsdale Avenue home, while Payne was transported to RPD headquarters.
Officers who went to check the home were unable to get anyone to come to the door, so they summoned the Richmond Fire Department, which forced entry into the residence.
King and Mullins were found in separate rooms of the house, both dead from gunshot wounds, according to police.
After shooting the women, Payne said he took Mullins’ car and drove to the Berea motel, Daniel said.
Later, he told police the shootings were an accident.
Lorie Love Hailey can be reached at email@example.com.