Mother of slain woman speaks out against domestic violence

By Brian Entin

HINESVILLE, GA (WTOC) - Odessa Upchurch is trying to save lives.

Police say her daughter Savannah Smith was murdered earlier this year by her boyfriend.

Friends say she was also abused by him. Her mom is helping other women stand up against abuse.

An open conversation in Hinesville was held about domestic violence, which aimed to empower young women  to stand up against abuse.

Savannah's Smith's mother got their attention.

"The more we can talk about it and come together we can save somebody else's life," Upchurch said.

Her daughter was murdered earlier this year. Police said the killer was her boyfriend, Maurice Newsome.

Upchurch is still grieving -- and the pain never leaves her face. But she's determined to use her tragedy to save others.

"I can help somebody else and that is what is all about -- stopping the cycle. Ending the violence so nobody has to go through what Savannah went through," she said.

Before the meeting started, there was a question-and-answer session in which people in the audience were sharing stories about rape, molestation and domestic violence.

"There were three or four people who were really touched. That really understood, 'I can talk about this. I can have a voice. There is help for me,'" said senior pastor Richie Williams.

Organizers said this is the first of many domestic violence workshops in Hinesville.

Upchurch said she'll be at every one with her daughter close by.

"I often stroke this necklace where her ashes have been placed and I keep her close to my heart," said.

Nothing is going to take away the pain, but she's helping these women escape it.

Several domestic violence agencies were at Saturday's conference. They all offer free help.

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