On Sunday morning, three Wadmalaw Island children’s lives changed forever.
The kids, ages 11, 8 and 6, awoke to learn that their father fatally shot their mother and grandmother before turning the gun on himself. Now, their family is asking for the community’s support.
“We cannot begin to express the sense of loss these children are facing,” said Jarmalar Logan, a family spokesperson for the victims, Kennitha LaBoard and Althea Goss.
Logan, along with the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, announced Tuesday the creation of the “LaBoard Memorial Fund” to help with the welfare and education of LaBoard’s children.
“We are saddened that we’re brought together by a tragedy, a double-murder and a suicide, but really we’re brought together because of the love for family, for children and for community,” said Deputy Senior Chaplain Rich Robinson. “And what brings us together today are the three children who woke up Sunday morning with no parents and with the loss of their grandmother. The family has wrapped their arms of love around each other to support one another and they’ve wrapped the care around these children to support them. ... And now, we are asking the community to come together and offer their love and support and wrap their loving arms and their hearts and now donations around this family.”
The children were at a family member’s house when Termaine Frasier, 39, killed LaBoard, 33, and Goss, 54, before killing himself. Police found their bodies at LaBoard’s home at 1429 Richard McCloud Lane, where she had resided with the children since 2009.
Their deaths were a shock to the small community on Wadmalaw Island, where both LaBoard and Goss were well-known.
Cherisse King-Taylor, whose son goes to school with LaBoard’s children, said LaBoard took over the role of PTA president at Frierson Elementary School in August after previously serving on the School Improvement Council.
“Everyone knows her and her children,” King-Taylor said, adding that LaBoard was very involved in anything school-related. “I never thought this would happen to her — you never saw her (without) a smile on her face, you never saw her not upbeat, you never saw her without (her children).”
She described LaBoard’s death as a great loss to the school, not only because of her efforts to spearhead fundraising, support school development and create fun events that brought children together, but also of her parenting.
“There aren’t a lot of parents in that community as invested as she was,” King-Taylor said. “This is hard because everything about her was (her children) and everything about them was her. She was just the model parent; there’s not another parent like her.”
King-Taylor added that LaBoard’s schedule at Boeing allowed her to volunteer at the school and be present for anything involving her kids. And when LaBoard needed help or couldn’t be at an event, Goss “was always her backup.”
Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said LaBoard was a teammate in the company’s final assembly operations.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family, friends, and co-workers,” she said. “Boeing is offering grief counseling through our Employee Assistance Program to Kennitha’s co-workers to help them cope with the loss.”
King-Taylor said the kids rode the bus home to their grandmother’s and LaBoard picked them up from her house every day.
“To not have both of them, I just can’t imagine how that is going to play out for those young children,” she said. “There was no bigger supporter to her children (than LaBoard). She will be irreplaceable.”
King-Taylor was a friend of LaBoard’s and said she never knew there was domestic violence in her and Frasier’s relationship.
“We definitely need to be more of our brothers’ keepers,” she said. “We need this to bring us together and keep us together. We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
She said LaBoard’s school family, including the children, were hurting over their loss.
“Everybody knew Ms. LaBoard,” she said. “Everybody knew if there was a movie night, Ms. LaBoard had something to do with it. If there was Chuck E. Cheese, if there was something fun to do with bringing the kids together, Ms. LaBoard had something to do with it.”
At Tuesday’s press conference, several of LaBoard and Goss’ family members were present and wore purple ribbons for domestic-violence awareness. They said purple was also LaBoard’s favorite color.
Family members have declined to comment or answer questions surrounding the loss of their loved ones, stating that they are still grieving.
Logan, however, did thank everyone for their support.
“On behalf of the Peterson, Goss and LaBoard families, we would like to express our gratitude and heartfelt thanks during this most tragic and difficult time,” Logan said. “We ask that you please show respect and continue to pray for our families during our time of grief.”
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.