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by Barry Burch Jr.
It’s been 6 years since Sheryl Shivers-Blackwell was k*lled by her abusive husband with suspected mental issues, but it’s certainly worth remembering. Maybe it could save someone’s life.
A call each and every day leading up to her death illustrates the support Sheryl Shivers-Blackwell had on her side, and also the unpredictable and psychotic behavior of a lover, who was reportedly dangerous by many accounts.
It was Shivers-Blackwell’s stepmother, Evelyn Shivers, who was calling her every day to check and make sure she was OK. She and numerous other family members had reportedly warned the 36-year-old about her husband to which she did not take heed.
“She just hung in there because of the kids, and that got her killed, basically,” said her father James Shivers. “We kept telling her to get rid of this guy. He’s no good. He’s nothing but an anchor.”
Shivers-Blackwell, who was a popular professor in the School of Business & Industry, was found dead on July 5, 2007, in the family’s Northwest Tallahassee home. She had been strangled by her husband, Baron Blackwell, 43, who died in the hospital two days following the murder. He was declared brain dead after losing too much blood from self-inflicted cuts.
The deceased couple’s two children, then ages 3 and 6, were under the impression that their mother had just been asleep for 10 hours. They were found by police in a blood-filled hallway.
“We told her several times that this thing wasn’t going to work, that he was going to end up hurting her,” Evelyn Shivers said. “She just had faith that that wasn’t going to happen. She just thought that through prayer, he was going to start taking his medication.”
According to police documents released on Friday, several family members of Shivers-Blackwell said Baron Blackwell’s mental shakiness had been showing, where he had become physically abusive in the months leading up to the murder-suicide. As reported by MentalHealthNews, some believed he had become bipolar and schizophrenic.
Evelyn Shivers said that she tried to get her stepdaughter to have Baron Blackwell committed to a mental institution, but was not successful, as Shivers-Blackwell responded that Blackwell would not go. “I wish something could be done about people, whether they’re male or female, who have this disease,” she said. “There should be a law in place where the other mate can have the other committed.”
She continued, “I said, ‘Baby, it’s time to get out. He’s getting ready to kill you.'”
Blackwell, who had come to the conclusion that people were trying to get him, picked at the skin of his arm until it bled.
“That should have told her something, that the guy wasn’t all there,” said her father, James Shivers. “That’s what I couldn’t understand. She was so intelligent, but she couldn’t see the handwriting on the wall as far as Baron goes, (but) she didn’t want to see the kids without a father, and they loved Baron.”
The couple’s children are staying with a relative in Jacksonville. They came back for FAMU’s homecoming weekend. James Shivers said he was worried about their reaction, but that they actually had a good time.
“What I understand from talking to the counselor, they’re doing as best as can be expected,” James Shivers said.
He continued, “Kids have a way of adjusting better than adults do. I take it pretty hard.”