November 27, 2014

Elyria
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A mother remembered

Elyria woman was stabbed to death after children’s party

ELYRIA — The doorway of one Portia Court apartment has been covered with a makeshift memorial after neighbors learned resident Bridgette M. Williams was stabbed to death Monday evening in Cleveland following a children’s birthday party.
The news has shocked residents, including Michelle Chaney, who lived next door to 21-year-old Williams. She said Williams moved to the Wilkes Villa housing projects about 18 months ago from the Morris-Black housing project in Cleveland.
“She was a nice person, so I don’t think she deserved this,” Chaney said. “She said she moved to Elyria for a change in her life. She didn’t go back to Cleveland a lot.”
Family members said Williams was gearing up to start taking classes in hopes of getting her GED.
Cleveland Police Lt. Thomas Stacho said Williams traveled to Cleveland on Monday evening to celebrate the birthday of a relative’s child. She took her two small children to the party with her, as well as Chaney’s 4-year-old daughter.
While there, she got into an argument with another mother, police said, and as the squabble heated up, Williams decided it was best if she just left.
She was several miles away when she realized she had forgotten her purse at the home, Stacho said, so she returned, grabbed her belongings and left for a second time.
It was then police say a 24-year-old Cleveland woman followed Williams until the vehicle in which she was a passenger stopped for a light. There, the woman police have identified as Ramona “Minnie” Watkins, reached into the window and stabbed Williams several times in the chest.
Debbie Johnson Scott, of Lorain, who was driving the car in which Williams was riding, said Watkins said nothing before the stabbing.
“She crept up to my car and I didn’t even notice she was there until she was stabbing Bridgette and her brother was screaming,” Johnson Scott said.
Johnson Scott rushed her niece to Cleveland Clinic, where she later was pronounced dead. It was the only thing she said she could think to do after her niece crawled in the back seat and collapsed on top of her children, 2-year-old Amyra and 9-month-old Anya.
“I was in a panic. I’m screaming and hollering and all I remember Bridgette saying is ‘I can’t breath,’ ” Johnson Scott said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “All the kids were screaming and her brother just kept telling me to go faster. I really think she died in my car on top of her babies.”
Chaney said her daughter, who was seated in the back seat with Williams’ children, witnessed the gruesome attack. She has had nightmares ever since and sometimes wakes up screaming for her mother to lock her door.
Chaney said she can’t image what kind of person would kill a mother in front of her children.
“All I can think about is those kids,” Chaney said.
Stacho said Watkins has yet to be located, but police have issued a warrant for aggravated murder for her arrest. Police describe the woman as being 4-feet, 8-inches tall, 110 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
Despite Watkins’ diminutive stature, Johnson Scott said she will always remember the crazy look Watkins had in her eyes when she was screaming at her niece at the party.
“I knew she was on some ill mess that I didn’t want to be a part of,” she said.
As for Williams’ grief-stricken neighbors, they said they will continue to memorialize Williams with stuffed animals, toys and a large poster board that reads “R.I.P. B” with dozens of handwritten messages of condolence.
The memorial is what Johnson Scott saw when she went to the apartment Wednesday afternoon.
“I broke down, but it made me feel so good,” she said. “They showed her so much love. I cried tears of happiness.”
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 at lroberson@chroniclet.com.

072607mother.jpgSteve Manheim / Chronicle
Debbie Johnson Scott, aunt of Bridgette Williams, sits near a makeshift memorial in front of Williams’ apartment on Portia Court in Elyria on Wednesday.