Police: Daughter witnessed mother’s killing

Amanda Kalman

Amanda Kalman's two young daughters spent the night in the same house with their mother's dead body after their father stabbed her in the neck last week in West Ashley, authorities said today.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Chesley Jones "CJ" Black, Jr. stabbed Kalman with a knife during a confrontation Thursday evening. He then kept their daughters — ages 4 and 2 — in the home until sometime around noon on Friday, he said.

Shortly thereafter, Black drove to Kalman's sister's home in St. George, where he dropped off his 4-year-old, Cannon said.

Black acted like nothing was wrong during the visit, said Beverlie Holcomb, Kalman's sister.

"He had said that his mom was in the hospital," she said. "And when I asked where Amanda was he told me she was tied up in the bathroom and I thought maybe she was just going to the bathroom."

After he left, the 4-year-old explained that her mother was dead and that she had seen her father "cut" her mother, Cannon said.

Holcomb's husband called police and soon sheriff's deputies showed up at the couple's West Ashley home, crawling through a small dog door to get inside, Cannon said. They found Kalman, 25, lying dead by the front door, her body partially inside a small bathroom, he said.

The wound to her neck cut her carotid artery, shutting off blood flow to Kalman's brain, Chief Deputy Coroner Bobbi Jo O'Neal said. There were small wounds that showed signs of a struggle, authorities said.

Authorities spent several frantic hours hunting for Black and his 2-year-old daughter, who was with him when he left Holcomb's house. The finally found the toddler safe with Black's mother in Sumter. Black was eventually located near a relative's house in Sumter County. He is charged with murder.

"I was the last to see him," said Holcomb. "He didn't have any remorse. I had to hear from a 4-year-old what her dad's done to her."

Two dozen of Kalman's family members crammed into the Charleston County Bond Court this morning morning to get their first look at Black since the killing. They insisted on standing where they could see the 29-year-old to let him know what has been done to their family, especially his own daughters, ages 4 and 2.

"It's totally torn us up," Joyce Gresh, Kalman's aunt said. "All we can think about is how Amanda was in love with those girls and how she wanted for them to live a great life. She was an amazing mom."

The family wouldn't get the chance to speak. Magistrate Linda Lombard told the mop-haired, unshaven Black that she didn't have the ability to set bond on a murder charge and dismissed him without any further comment.

"I wanted to be able to say so much to him; how he's robbed those precious little girls of a normal life," Gresh said. "These most precious little girls will get a normal life but not with their own mom. We'll give them the love they deserve just like we give our own children. They'll be our own children now."

An arrest affidavit released on Tuesday says a witness told deputies that Black and Kalman were arguing and fighting inside the house at 2103 Fife Lane when he killed her.

Holcomb said she suspected something was wrong Friday because Black didn't go to work at her family's company that day and she couldn't reach her sister. But she didn't envision this.

"It was like he was Jekyl and Hyde," Holcomb said. "I would have never seen this coming in a million years."

Kalman was a sweet girl who didn't know a stranger, Don Gresh, Joyce Gresh's husband, said. She lost her father when she was 12 and was more like a daughter than a niece.

Several hundred people attended her viewing Monday night and just as many were expected at her funeral this afternoon.

Don Gresh said the family is angry and taking it hard but they will move on and maybe one day forgive the man who killed her.

"At this particular point in time you're going to get all sort of volatile responses," Don Gresh said. "I think as time passes, we're a good Christian group, we've got to figure out a way to forgive."