My stomach had a queasy feeling when I first drove up to Alma Lofton’s house in southeast Fort Worth on a December afternoon 14 years ago.
The tragic story of what had happened to her daughter had been published in our newspaper, and on this day I was to meet her and the four grandchildren that Lofton now would be in charge of raising.
Before I got to the door, my anxiety was relieved a bit when a little girl shyly walked up to me and held up four fingers, letting me know that it was her birthday.
And on what should have been one of the happiest days for her and her family, Anastasia Turner’s fourth birthday was a sad one, coming exactly three weeks after her 13-year-old brother, Kevin, had discovered their mother dead in her bed.
Her brother took Anastasia to a neighbor’s house, returned to his home with his mother’s friend and then waited next door until the police came. Two other sisters, ages 10 and 5, already had left for school that day.
Kisha Lambert, 28, had been strangled with a cord, left in the bed with the covers pulled up around her shoulders.
The suspect was her former boyfriend, who reportedly had been seen at the house the night before but had not been seen since.
Logan had called me because she was concerned that the killer had not been captured. And she was worried about the children, especially Kevin, who had not shown any emotion since his mother’s death, and Anastasia.
Coincidentally, the day after I visited the family, the ex-boyfriend’s handcuffed body was found in the Red River outside Shreveport. The handcuff key was in his possession.
I’ve been in contact with the family a few times over the years, and each time I, too, was particularly concerned about Anastasia and Kevin. The usual report was that Anastasia was doing great in school — straight A’s — and Kevin was still withdrawn, not opening up.
One day the grandmother asked me to come by specifically to talk to Kevin, and we did talk. When I explained that people were concerned that he still hadn’t shown in outward signs of grief since his mother’s death, he explained: “I grieve in my own way. I’m not a person who really shows my emotions. … It’s my personality.”
It had been at least two or three years since I saw any member of the family when I got a call a few weeks ago from an educator I’ve known a long time. Larry Lewis is the former superintendent of Lancaster public schools, now an administrator with the Frisco district and, I just learned, the brother of Lofton and uncle of Anastasia.
Lewis said he thought it was time for me to check up on Anastasia again.
I dropped in on the family a couple of weeks ago to discover that the grandmother is quite ill — suffering from emphysema, sleep apnea and blood pressure problems — and on oxygen 24 hours a day.
They had a surprise for me. Kevin, who’s now 27 and the father of two children, was there to greet me.
As for Anastasia?
She has grown into a remarkable young woman who will graduate in June as valedictorian of O.D. Wyatt High School with a 4.3 grade point average. In addition to being a great student academically (taking dual credits at her high school and Tarrant County College), she is also an outstanding athlete, playing on the varsity volleyball, basketball and track teams since she was a freshman.
She plans to major in accounting at Louisiana State University.
When reflecting on her mother’s death she said, “I actually live my life for my mother. … I use it honestly as a drive. It’s my encouragement.”
Lofton added, “Her mother would be very proud of her.”
Aren’t we all?