A Sunday night vigil commemorating three family members slain in St. Paul became a gathering to condemn domestic violence, with the victims’ friends and family members urging young women to speak up about abuse before it’s too late.
More than 150 people gathered at Lake Phalen on St. Paul’s East Side, holding candles in Styrofoam cups, praying and telling stories about Olivia and Maria McIntosh, 17 and 19, and their father, Wade McIntosh. All three were killed early Friday in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood.
Police believe they were shot by Jeffrey Jemaile Taylor, Maria McIntosh’s ex-boyfriend, over a custody dispute involving their 18-month-old daughter, Cheyenne. Taylor was found dead near the scene.
At the vigil, a white blanket with red embroidery lay in the middle of the mourners, covered in white tea lights and roses. The group sang “Amazing Grace” before people began speaking about the dangers of violent relationships.
Family members said stories have now come out about the physical abuse Maria McIntosh suffered at the hands of Taylor, though they didn’t suspect it previously.
“All the young girls that are here, we have to address what happened … as domestic abuse,” said Juanita Hernandez, aunt of Maria and Olivia McIntosh, through tears. “You have to say something if you’re being abused.”
LaTessa Rayford, Maria McIntosh’s supervisor at Golden Corral, said she was a survivor of domestic abuse.
“I never knew [Maria] was struggling with this,” Rayford said, before urging the crowd to live life to the fullest in memory of Maria.
Several of those attending the vigil described Wade McIntosh as a warm hugger, an enthusiastic singer at church and a doting father and grandfather.
Olivia McIntosh was remembered by friends and family members as colorful and quirky, someone who danced around the mall on Black Friday in a Santa suit and once ate a dog treat as a 6-year-old.
“She never cared what anyone thought, and that’s what I loved about her,” said Will Kachel, a friend and co-worker.
The mother of the young women, Anita Sprosty, also was shot. She remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Sprosty is the ex-wife of Wade McIntosh, who had been staying with the family since February.
Louis Hernandez, a nephew of Anita Sprosty, addressed the vigil, saying, “We hold each family member in our hearts, whether they are near or far. We ask that you hold those you love, hold your blessings to your chest because as easily as they are given, they can be taken.”
Charges of aiding and abetting murder, kidnapping and attempted murder are expected Monday against Jeffery A. Taylor, the half-brother of Jeffrey Taylor, who was found hiding in a shed near the crime scene, holding the little girl.