Murder victim's mother speaks out

The late Amanda Thomas and her son Tabryn.

You'll recall last month we told you about the tragic murder of a Hannibal woman and Monroe City man at the hand of her ex-boyfriend, an illegal immigrant.

Police say 32-year-old Manuel Cazares stabbed 27-year-old Amanda Thomas and her high school friend 25-year-old Carl Patrick or Patrick Epley of Monroe City in late February.

Thomas' family members say the murder was the tragic conclusion of the woman's long-running battle to protect herself from her former boyfriend and father of her second child.

Now a website against domestic violence has been set up in her memory.

View the story about 'Voices for Amanda'

View more about Amanda's struggle with domestic violence:

Listen to complete interview with Jody Schaubroeck:

KHQA spoke talked with the woman who spearheaded the effort - Thomas' birth mother Jody Schaubroeck.

Schaubroeck said, "It's devastating. Nothing can prepare you for this type of agony. I don't know how any of us will ever get over it."

After grieving for her daughter, Schaubroeck (who lives in Nebraska) decided she had to tell Amanda's story. So with the help of a friend, rose out of the ashes of this tragedy. It's designed to raise awareness of domestic violence and to show the world that it can affect anyone.

Schaubroeck said, "I am honoring her by doing exactly what she would expect from me."

Schaubroeck says she was also a victim of severe abuse when Amanda was a little girl. In fact. fear for her life was what drove her to leave Amanda with a family friend who raised her. Now it's Amanda who in death leaves behind her children...all because of domestic violence.

What did she leave behind?

Schaubroeck said, "Besides the grief and the loss for me, Amanda left behind a big opportunity to uncover the dirty secrets of domestic violence and abuse in our families and how society tolerates it, addresses it and drops the ball."

Schaubroeck says Amanda who wanted nothing more than a great life for her two young children -- a daughter seven year-old Skylie and a little son, one and a half year old Tabryn. She hopes this site may make the world safer for other children and their mothers.

Log on:

Schaubroeck said, "Amanda was vivacious, she had a contagious laugh, she was intelligent."

But Amanda's birth mother, Jody Schaubroeck says behind her smile, her daughter was dealing with an all-too-common problem - domestic violence.

Amanda met Manuel Cazares and soon they dated.

Schaubroeck said, "It started off slowly with control. He would be displeased with how she was dressed, who she would see. And Amanda was a strong-willed young lady but it's a testiment to the fact that anyone can be affected."

Schaubroeck said, "She felt trapped, there were times he would hurt her and scare her and he would be contrite and say he was just drunk and he would get treatment."

A tribute to Amanda's spirit, Schaubroeck says while this abuse was going on, Amanda continued to better herself. She was always striving to be a better mother and that included bettering herself. She had begun taking classes at John Wood Community College to become a nurse. But in the end violence won out., over her best efforts to protect herself with orders of protection.

Schaubroeck said, "He would threaten her if you don't drop the exparte I will get you . What people don't realize is that women see what the perpetrator can do this isn't a mystery."

Schaubroeck said, "Nothing prepares you for this type of agony. Amanda didn't deserve this, Epley didn't deserve this. No one deserves this."

View the story about 'Voices for Amanda'

View more about Amanda's struggle with domestic violence:

Listen to complete interview with Jody Schaubroeck: