Whitehead twins turn 17, now in Rockdale jail (Nov. 30, 2011)
Whitehead twins plead not guilty again (Sept. 10, 2011)
Whitehead one-year memorial service (Jan. 30, 2011)
The Whitehead Murder, One Year Later: Stuck in Limbo (Jan. 8, 2011)
Police called to murder victim's home days before killing (May 27, 2010)
Daughters arrested in Conyers murder case (May 21, 2010)
Conyers murder victim mourned, funeral set for Monday (Jan. 29, 2010)
Dead body found in Bridle Ridge Walk subdivision (Jan. 13, 2010)
Lynda Whitehead will soon revisit a horrible day. On Jan. 13, she will memorialize the day her daughter Jarmecca Yvonne "Nikki" Whitehead was found beaten and stabbed to death.
The murder was the first of 2010 for Conyers police.
The 365 days it has taken Whitehead to make it through 2010 still is not enough time to help her heal. But she hopes sharing memories of her daughter with her friends and family will make it a bit easier. Nikki’s twin daughters, Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead, sit in jail accused of the crime.
"I knew this was going to be a long road to go down, and I’m in it every day until there’s justice," the mother of six said, her voice quaking. "Don’t get me wrong. I love those kids. They were my first set of grandkids. But this should’ve never happened."
She last spoke to Nikki on Jan. 12.
The next day she was at work when Nikki’s childhood friend Yucca Harris called with horrible news.
"I was just trembling," Whitehead said crying. "I couldn’t contain myself. I didn’t know what to do. It’s been a nightmare ever since."
One of the reasons, she said, is that during a time when she has needed to lean on family, she has not had that support because of years of tension and feuding with her mother, Della Frazier, and other immediate family. She said none of them have contacted her since Nikki’s murder, including the twins.
"To this day, I have not spoke to my mom," Whitehead said. "To this day, I have not spoke to my sister and brothers. They haven’t called me with any condolences."
She said Harris helped her plan Nikki’s funeral mainly using donations.
"I prayed to God and said, ‘Lord, you know my daughter didn’t deserve this, so please let her have a nice homegoing,’" Whitehead said. "He took care of everything."
At the wake, she said the twins never approached the casket. Long gloves were put on the body because Nikki’s arms had so many major cuts, Whitehead said.
"They never came to me," she said. "They had no affection. They were acting so insensitive. It wasn’t the behavior of two little girls who’d lost their mom."
Whitehead said she was not surprised by their actions and felt Frazier had not been a good role model for how the twins should behave towards their own mother. For instance, when Nikki regained custody and went to enroll them back in Rockdale County High School, Whitehead said Frazier refused to come assist with paperwork. Ultimately, Nikki had to call the police to force her, she said.
"In (Frazier’s) mind, she raised those girls," Whitehead said. "It’s a generational thing. My momma put a wedge between me and my child. I know a lot of people don’t understand. She got into their heads with a lot of negativity."
Lynda Whitehead said her aunt and uncle raised her. Frazier was not in her life until age 12.
There also was a period of time she did not raise Nikki, so Frazier raised Nikki until adolescence. Besides their absence from Nikki, the twins’ father was not in their lives.
In days spent reflecting after Nikki’s death and funeral, Whitehead tried to make sense of it all. Because she and Nikki had begun repairing their relationship in recent years, she had little contact with the twins. Plus, they were not always in Nikki’s custody, despite how much she yearned for them.
"My daughter feared her kids, but she loved her kids," Whitehead said.
She said she was so concerned that first day court orders sent Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah back to Nikki’s home in January she stayed over. The twins never came out of their room to eat, drink or use the restroom, Whitehead recalled. That night on the living room couch, she could not sleep and positioned herself to watch their bedroom door.
Besides long simmering family issues, Whitehead also blames the court system, saying not enough was done to smoothly transition the girls from Frazier to Nikki in January. She said Nikki pushed to have counseling, mentors and mediation in place first. Nikki did not even know the girls were coming home with her the day County Juvenile Court Judge William Schneider ordered them back in her custody, Whitehead said.
"It just don’t make no sense about what he did," she said. "I can’t understand it."
Once the girls heard they were going back to Nikki they made such a commotion outside the hearings room people stepped out their offices and Schneider came into the hallway, Whitehead recalled. It was then she said she heard Jasmiyah tell Nikki she would kill her if she had to return to her home. "You hear something, but then you don’t react," Whitehead said, adding she sat next to Nikki stunned.
Nikki then left the courthouse to move the girls from Frazier’s home. "When she got there, the girls refused to get their things and told Nikki they’re not going to be there long with her anyways," Whitehead said.
Now, there is not much Whitehead can do to help her daughter or grand-daughters. But she is trying to be positive by starting a foundation in Nikki’s memory to assist young mothers also facing similar life challenges.
"I want people to know my daughter did nothing wrong," Whitehead said. "She never abused (the twins), only loved them."