A young Mississippi mother was abducted and killed by her ex-boyfriend in a suspected murder-suicide a week after filing stalking charges against him, authorities said.
Phoenicia Ratliff was kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend Jamarquis Black, 24, who shot her sister in the process before ultimately killing Ratliff and later himself following a highway pursuit, police said, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
Black allegedly kidnapped Ratliff at gunpoint at her mother's home in Canton, Mississippi on May 14, Jackson television station WAPT reported. The 24-year-old hid in the bushes outside the residence and jumped the Ratliff, allegedly shooting the woman’s sister in the leg when she attempted to stop the abduction, according to local reports.
The pair later surfaced in Philadelphia, Mississippi, according to authorities. State troopers chased Black down I-55 and he later crashed in Lincoln County. By the time law enforcement approached the vehicle, both Ratliff and Black were dead.
“It ended in a tragedy where he killed himself and her," Assistant Chief Terrence Ware of the Canton Police Department told the Clarion Ledger.
"The pain that I’m going through right now, it’s unbearable," Eugene Ratliff, the victim's uncle, told WAPT. "I love my niece to death. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family and I wasn’t able to be there to try to help her."
Black’s mother supposedly phoned him, urging him to surrender prior to the suspected murder-suicide, WAPT reported. He agreed to turn himself in if he was permitted to see his daughter. His mother was supposedly at the site of the crash, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger.
Ratliff’s family said the couple were struggling with custody issues involving their 1-year-old daughter. Ratliff had recently broken up with Black, WJTV reported.
"She tried to be civil with him,” Eugene Ratliff told WAPT. “That didn’t work."
Black had been booked on domestic violence and stalking charges days before the incident, but bonded out of jail on May 11, WJTV reported.
"She made her mind up, she had left the guy, he started going crazy and she started filing reports on him," Ware, the Canton assistant police chief, said.
Ratliff’s sister is expected to recover, police officials said.
A balloon launch memorial was later held to celebrate the young Mississippi mother and university student's. She was a senior at Jackson State University, NBC affiliate WLBT reported. The 23-year-old was a member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
Her friends said she’ll be remembered as a hard-working student with a “caring soul” and an “angelic” smile.
"She took extra classes in the summer just to finish in December," K'Shatriyah Humphrey, one of Ratliff's sorority sisters, told the Jackson Clarion Ledger. "She always told me that she was ready to leave college and she would do whatever she needed to graduate as quickly as possible."
Ratliff was expected to graduate this winter with a degree in childhood education, according to WJTV.
"She was always the positive sister throughout all our chaos, our peacemaker," Ilka Stewart, another friend, told the Jackson Clarion Ledger.
She worked at Subway part-time while finishing her studies.
"She was intent on making something of her life," David Willey, her former boss and manager at the sandwich chain, told the Jackson Clarion Ledger. "She was a very delightful person. I mean, she's as good as gold."
"Everybody loved her,” Subway owner, Alex Breeland, also told the Mississippi newspaper. “People were just crazy about her."
Ratliff’s sorority sisters organized a candlelight vigil for Ratliff in Canton on Wednesday, WAPT reported.
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