Family of murdered teen starts toy drive for violence victims

Family of murdered teen starts toy drive for domestic violence victims

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By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - The family of a murdered Sevier County teenager is honoring her memory by collecting Christmas gifts for victims of domestic violence.

Leah Avril, 18, was shot and killed by her boyfriend, Jacob Stanton, 21, three years ago. Stanton was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Leah's mother and sister believe she was trying to break up with her new boyfriend that evening back in 2009 when he fatally shot her in the chest.

Now they want to support other women who have had the courage to leave an abusive relationship. In her name, they decided to start a toy drive to collect gifts for children of all ages and their parents who have left abusive situations.

"She just didn't get the chance, that's what I believe. If she had gotten the chance, like these ladies who are in hiding. They are in hiding and I hope they stay that way and they're strong and they don't go back to them. I just want to give them a little happiness at Christmas," said Leah's sister Amy Thomason.

All of the gifts collected will be donated to the Safe Space domestic violence shelter serving families in Sevier, Jefferson and Cocke Counties.

You can drop off donations at several locations on the Parkway in Sevierville, including Y-12 Federal Credit Union, Subway, Check 'n Go, HC Orthotics and Saigon Nails. Other locations include Merle Norman and New Life Church of God.

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