By Mary L. Datcher
Special to the NNPA from Windy City Word Newspaper
CHICAGO – While struggling financially, Nova Henry realized she was pregnant with a second child, Ava. Although, Loni felt that the support of family would be enough to sustain her daughter, Nova, through the hurdles she would face as a single Mom, the decision to approach Eddy Curry for child support was unavoidable.
At the time, he was playing for the Chicago Bulls. Nova felt that it was only fair that he share the parental responsibility for both children. But the process would not be an easy one. Curry’s legal team immediately slowed Nova down with court continuance after court countenance, evidently hoping to wear down. While seeking legal representation, Nova met Frederick Goings, a 30-something attorney who moved in Chicago popular social circles and was best known as a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
“Immediately, he was involved in Nova – showering her with gifts. Pretty soon, they moved in together and the relationship turned obsessive,” Loni recalls.
Not only had Goings become Nova’s legal representative in acquiring child support but he also became her boyfriend with an agenda beyond professional interest. The family was suspicious of his motives and so was Nova as she began to slowly retreat.
There were concerns about possible domestic abuse, which were deepened when days would pass without Loni hearing from her daughter. Those concerns escalated when it was learned that Nova had been locked inside the home with special door bolts Goings had installed to prevent her from leaving.
Loni explained, “He knew every trick in the book to threaten and scare her. He was an attorney so he also knew which laws he could manipulate.”
Nova, fearing for her life, did not share the full scope the abuse with her family. Typically, victims of domestic violence live in fear of not only their safety but the safety of loved ones. It wasn’t long before Nova realized her fear was justified.
One night, Goings entered Nova’s home and opened fire on her. She clutched little Ava in her arms, hoping to shield her from the bullets. Both Mom and daughter died from multiple shots as a horrified 3-year-old Noah witnessed the terrible ordeal.
Loni is haunted by that tragic night, trying to answer the unanswerable: How does a parent protect their child from such violence? When the signs and evidence is clearly there, what kind of resources are out here to put safety measures in place for victims of domestic violence?
In 2013, Frederick Goings, 40, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. It was during the trial that the family learned that he had several domestic complaints filed against him, none of which had resulted in a conviction.
“We didn’t know until the murder trial that this man, Frederick Goings, was a licensed gun carrier here in the State of Illinois. They had found since his high school days that he had a list of criminal charges but there were no convictions because he was so smart. He knew how to get around things and he also knew how to get out of things,” Loni said. “He had a criminal mind. Most of the charges – attempted murder, assault and battery and so on – people would not show up to court because he would intimidate them. He tried to do that to Nova.”
Never one to back away from a fight; Loni has formed her own organization-FAVA, Inc. and joined forces with other organizations, including Chicago Citizens for Change, Moms Demand Action and MLKPEACECHAIN. All of the organizations support victims of domestic violence and help put preventative measures in place.
She is currently working with legislators on passing a bill that would prevent people with multiple assault complaints and convictions in domestic violence cases from acquiring a fire arm license.
“Illinois Congresswoman Robin Kelly reached out to us through Chicago Citizens for Change and then I met her on my own. She’s been very instrumental whenever we visit D.C. to make sure we get to the right people and places. She’s also included us in the Kelly Report, which has helped us. Whenever she has something; she invites us there.”
Loni wishes Nova and Little Ava could travel to Washington with her. But they can’t, so she goes alone, taking cherished memories of them with her. She can’t bring back her daughter and granddaughter, but she can work to make sure other families are not robbed of their loved ones because of domestic violence.