It’s a vision too gruesome to conjure, too chilling to entertain: your enraged husband charges into your home, grabs your daughter and plunges a knife through her heart.
But it’s a vision that’s all too real for Queensland mum Marlene Locke, still tormented by the death of her eldest child, 23-year-old Sherelle, three years ago.
On a summer’s evening in February 2014, Locke and Sherelle had planted themselves on the couch at Locke’s home in Boronia Heights, Brisbane, for a quiet girls' night in. The pair were close and cherished mother-daughter time; Sherelle herself had three children, while Locke had two younger children with her husband of six years, Raymond John Mead.
Around 11.30pm, Mead arrived home from a night out drinking. Hearing laughter in the living room, he stormed in, lunged at Sherelle and seemingly punched her in the chest (in fact he had a knife). As blood began to seep from her daughter's body, Locke feared for the worst.
Mead then grabbed Locke and pinned her against the wall to stop her from helping Sherelle, who had collapsed on the floor, screaming in pain.
“I could actually see Sherelle out of the corner of my eye slowly slipping away and there was nothing I could do,” Ms Locke told Nine News. “He wouldn’t let me go.”
As Locke looked on sobbing, her daughter’s face draining of colour by the second, Mead told her that his stepdaughter “deserved it”.
By the time Mead released Locke 10 minutes later, it was too late.
'My beautiful daughter and my best friend was gone,' Locke said this week.
“I will never be able to get that vision out of my head of her being killed before my eyes and not being able to help her,” she told The Sun. “But I want my story to be told as a warning to women in situations like mine.”
"I will never be able to get that vision out of my head of her being killed before my eyes and not being able to help her"
Last November, Mead was jailed for life for the murder. The jury heard he had a history of abusive behaviour: Locke had previously taken out a domestic violence order against him and had moved in with Sherelle for a short period. Mead reportedly detested his stepdaughter, who had repetitively urged her mother to leave him.
While Locke’s internal torture and deep grief live on, her priority now is the safety of her two surviving children, aged five and eight. Locke has set up a GoFundMe page to change their surnames.
She says: “I am trying to raise funds to get their names changed so they dont have to grow up with a murderers [sic] surname … I am also changing their names and mine for safety reasons due to Domestic Violence from my ex and he never gives up even behind bars.”
Determined that her daughter’s tragic death won't be in vein, Locke has also become a domestic violence ambassador and Red Rose Foundation advocate.
Her words for other victims? “Have an escape plan in place,” she told Nine News. “Have one person and one person only that knows where you’re going to go and what you’re going to do. Try and get some money behind you, but just get out.”
You can donate to Marlene Locke’s GoFundMe page here.