Mom of slain student speaks out on domestic violence

GAYLORD – The mother of a Minnesota State University, Mankato student slain in the summer of 2011 spoke Wednesday night as the Mending Project was introduced in a rescheduled program at the United Church of Christ.

Cara Bishop of Henderson told the story of her daughter, Josselyn, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in broad daylight in Mankato on July 8, 2011. She talked about how domestic violence can change the lives of many people forever and how to look for the warning signs of control and violence.

Bishop, who spoke at an international investigators conference earlier this fall in Mankato, said she was asked to speak by the Sibley County Supportive Women Against Violence (SWAV) Support Group.

“Hopefully, someone will find value in my story to make a difference,” Bishop said. “It’s important to know the signs that things are not right with your children. Being aware that there are emotional and physical signs to know. My family had no education about this before it was too late and things spiraled out of control.”

Bishop said she hoped her story would encourage girls to ask for help.

“It didn’t get physical until the day she was killed,” Bishop said. “Earlier signs were emotional and control issues immediately after she broke up with him. She didn’t return his phone calls. He slashed her tires, threw her cell phone away to minimize her communication with her family and friends, stalked and harassed her with test messages to me.”

Damone Christopher Williams-Tillman pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder during an act of domestic violence. He was sentenced to life with possibility of parole.

Bishop said she deals with the loss of her daughter by speaking to organizations, by distance running and by having dialogue with Williams-Tillman in prison, where he filled in some of the questions she had.

“I think it’s great Sibley County organizations are supporting the Mending Project,” Bishop said. “Hopefully it takes off there and in other counties and cities. That needs to happen to help victimized women transition to a better life. It’s great to have men involved in this too.”

Bishop’s talk was sponsored by SWAV and Sibley Lodge No. 209 of Winthrop/Mending Project.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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