Words from her late daughter echo in the ears of Gloria Nichols. She still remembers her conversations with Miranda Nichols about the man she was seeing, Samuel Tellu.
"She said she wasn't ready for a relationship. I told her to just explain that to him. She said he doesn't understand. He just wants me to be with him," Gloria Nichols recalled, one day after she heard a gunshot in her driveway as Miranda and Tellu talked.
"They weren't loud or yelling so we didn't think anything in the house. All of a sudden, I hear a gunshot. I look and she's falling against the truck. He comes up to the door, looks at me, then gets in his truck and drives off," she explained.
Investigators found Tellu in his SUV Sunday morning. He was in a church parking lot, dead from what they believe to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Betty Dell Williams heads The Refuge, a domestic violence shelter that serves battered women in Toombs and four surrounding counties. She said this tragedy sounds similar to others shelter workers have seen.
"Domestic violence is about power and control. When a woman decides to leave, the abuser is losing control," Williams noted.
Miranda Nichols and Samuel Tellu shared a common background. Both had served their country. Nichols served in the Army and National Guard for a combined ten years. She'd deployed to Iraq with the Third Infantry Division. Tellu was a Specialist and assigned to 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade. Williams said even women who've served in combat can sometimes be unaware of the resources available to domestic violence victims.
"They need to call a shelter, either The Refuge or one of the other 45 in the state. We can help you with a plan to leave the abuser. Without a plan, it can be difficult and dangerous," she stated.
Military officials for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield offered a public statement that they were cooperating with agencies investigating the deaths and offered condolences to the families.