My daughter, Natalie Suzanne (Pate) Mathews, 34, was shot and killed by her husband, Cecil Bradley Mathews, in their home in Orange Park, FL. on Monday, December 5, 2005. Cecil is serving a 25-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.
I have four reasons for writing this letter:
Firstly, I want Natalie’s friends to know what has happened since she was murdered. (The Pates have relatives in Crisp County and Ashburn).
Secondly, I want women and young girls who allow, justify and even defend their husbands or boyfriends who emotionally, mentally and/or physically abuse them, to pay careful attention to Natalie’s last words to me about her husband. Then give serious thought to their own situations.
Thirdly, I want the low-lifes who need to ‘prove their manhood’ by controlling and abusing ‘their’ women to remember this.
Apparently, Cecil Bradley Mathews, whose favorite TV program was CSI, thought he could outwit law enforcement officials, too. But Clay County Sheriff's investigators-- nailed him!
Because of their work, Mathews has a 25-year booking with Hotel Jackson C.I. in Florida. Unless, of course, he invokes the Interstate Compact and applies to serve his time in Oklahoma with a big Mack booking.
Natalie and Cecil were married on Nov. 30, 1996. Their daughter was born in Feb., 1997. Soon they also had a son.
Less than a month before the second baby was born, he either quit or was fired from his job, and from that point on, he was unable to keep a job.
On Nov. 9, 1998, three months after the birth of her son, Natalie went to the emergency room at Saint John's Hospital, Tulsa. She could barely breath. The next day, Natalie was diagnosed with a rare, terminal condition called fibrosing mediastinitis-- scar tissue growing inside the chest cavity.
She was, however, able to continue working, and she went into a management program with Cracker Barrel and did very well, but continued to have health problems.
In the Spring of 2005, Natalie told me she could no longer live with Cecil and wanted a divorce.
A few weeks later, however, she called again, and said she had been unable to make Cecil leave. She had promised the kids she would not divorce their daddy.
So she lived with a husband she no longer trusted.
She lived with a husband she no longer respected.
She lived with a husband she no longer loved.
Because of her health, she was unable to work the hours required for a general manager’s job which she was offered, and Cecil had been angry about her not taking the higher paying job, yet he had no job.
She continued to live with him because if she died suddenly, she wanted Cecil to be there to comfort the children. And she had made a promise to them.
Finally, she was fed up and told him she wanted a divorce which he agreed to this time, but she said she felt sorry for Cecil.
I told her, “If you’ve convinced him it’s really over between you, that he really has to leave, you need to be careful. He--Will--Hurt You.”
“Oh, Mom,” she said, “Cecil would never do anything to hurt me.”
Later that night, Natalie called 911 at 12:09 p.m. and told the dispatcher, “I’m dying.”
At 12:13 p.m. the dispatcher received another call from Natalie’s cell phone. This time the caller was Cecil.
He told the dispatcher that “his wife had just shot at him"; that "his wife had shot herself....”
Natalie was pronounced dead at 12:27 p.m.
Cecil was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. In April of 2006, a Clay County grand jury returned a first-degree murder indictment against him. The death penalty was now on the table. He pled guilty to the lesser charge on May 31 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison on June 15, 2006.
Finally, my most important reason for writing this letter.
It has taken me more than a year to be able to consistenly work on Natalie’s Hallmark Memory Book, a gift from my oldest daughter. As I was putting Natalie’s special things together--notes, letters, cards, awards, photos-- I began to realize that December 5 didn’t happen to just Natalie. It happened to all of us. For family and friends, especially Natalie’s children, it has affected our lives in ways which are unimaginable and indescribable. Nor did it happen to just Natalie and her family and friends. It happened to humanity as a whole.
By brutally destroying the life of my bright and beautiful young daughter, Cecil has deprived the world of that special light which glowed through Natalie’s warm and loving spirit. Through Cecil’s act of senseless violence, my grandchildren have joined the numberless ranks of helpless, suffering, voiceless children whose innocent young lives are shattered by the actions of careless, thoughtless adults--many of whom are their own parents.
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