Family mourns stabbing victim
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jul 8, 2014, 14:17
HOPEWELL — On the afternoon of June 28, a 28-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in the Davisville neighborhood in Hopewell. The woman, Catherine Elizabeth Lipford, was a mother, a sister, a daughter and a friend. She left behind many, and those she left behind are still trying to cope with the loss.
Kelly Lipford, 31, Catherine’s sister, said she still feels like she is a bad dream, hoping every minute to wake up and for it all to be over.
At 3:52 p.m. on June 28, police responded to the 200 block of Davisville for a domestic disturbance call involving a man and woman. Upon arrival, police located a victim in the 300 block of Davisville on the ground and unresponsive. Lipford was pronounced dead at the scene by Hopewell Fire and EMS.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane said that the stabbing did occur inside the residence and evidence obtained at the scene confirms the location. Police also indicated the stabbing occurred during a “heated altercation.”
Catherine ran outside asking for help and that is when the 911 calls started coming into police.
Police then began a search for Hopewell resident Ulysses Blanding Jr., 52, of the 200 block of Davisville Court. Warrants were immediately put out for his arrest with charges of first-degree murder.
Police came to identify Blanding as the suspect “based on officer knowledge and a witness statement,” Keohane said. “Officers had some knowledge they were at the same apartment at that point.”
Blanding was apprehended within hours of the incident at a relative’s apartment in the city. He was arrested at 10:20 p.m.
Kelly said on that day she and her sister were arguing. She said her sister called her at 3:33 p.m. and she answered the phone.
“She said, ‘Can you call mom and ask her to take me to the hospital,” Kelly said. “And I said ‘Why do you need to go to the hospital,’ and she said, ‘He sliced my face open because I wouldn’t give him the remote control.’”
After that, the line went silent. Kelly said in the minutes following she had a missed call from her sister at 3:47 p.m. Then at 4:01 p.m. Kelly and Catherine’s mother, Tanya Lipford, called saying that Kelly needed to immediately come to Davisville.
“When I pulled up the rescue squad and the police were there and I just happened to look over on the side of the rescue squad and I saw a body laying there covered up in a white sheet and I knew.”
From that moment on, Kelly knew her life would never be the same. She would no longer just be an aunt, she would be a mother to Catherine’s daughter, Adrionnah, who will turn 2 years old in less than a week.
“It’s hard. This morning as soon as she woke up, she grabbed my mom’s cell phone and she said, ‘call mommy,’” Kelly said. “I was like, ‘We can’t call mommy,’ and she said ‘Well call dada.’ I was like what do we do. She’s not only enough to understand.”
Kelly is also having a difficult time knowing how her youngest sister died. Even though nothing will bring her back, Kelly said it would almost be more “comforting” if Catherine had died from a car accident.
“Then it’s like I knew she wouldn’t have to suffer,” Kelly said. “And I don’t want to think about the thoughts that were going through her head and what she was thinking.”
Though the two sisters did not get along growing up, as Kelly says Catherine was a “Daddy’s girl” and got anything she wanted, Kelly said the nights are long as she sits and realizes her sister will not be there for important moments in her life.
Just recently Kelly got engaged to Michael, her boyfriend of six months. With a smile on her face, saying it is true love and thanking her brother for introducing them, there is a sadness that lurks behind her eyes.
“She’s not going to be there,” Kelly said of her impending nuptials.
Despite sharing somewhat harsh words the day of the incident, Kelly shares fond memories of her sister Catherine, even saying one of her favorite memories occurred just two days before, and was the last time Kelly saw Catherine.
Kelly said that night she was bringing her sister home from work, where she recently got a job at Denny’s in Colonial Heights. Sometime during her work day, Catherine got a hole in her shoe and stepped in a puddle of water.
“She said her feet stunk so she threw her socks out the window going down the road,” Kelly said laughing. “My friend that was in the car said, ‘You’re going to get us pulled over’ and she said, ‘If we get pulled I’ll just tell them I didn’t throw them out they jumped out of my hand.’”
Kelly added that her sister, although making some bad decisions in her past and being on a rough road, was working to turn things around by getting a new job and trying to save money. Now, Kelly said, Catherine will never get that chance to make a better life for her or her daughter, Adrionnah, who will never know her mother.
Despite the anger that Kelly holds in her heart toward Blanding, she does not want to hold onto that forever. She knows that she has to forgive, even though now is not the time.
“I’m angry. He’s a coward but nothing that he can say or do is going to bring her back,” Kelly said. “… But I know I have to forgive him because if I don’t that’s me allowing him to control my life and I refuse to do that. He will not control my life at all.”
Apart from the anger, apart from the tragedy that her sister Catherine endured, Kelly is going to continue moving forward and remembering her sister and sharing those stories with Adrionnah, who will learn about her mother through pictures and stories from loved ones.
“She was a very loving person,” Kelly said of her late sister Catherine. “She would give you the shirt off her back if she could.”
The service for Catherine Lipford will be July 10 at 7 p.m. in Dinwiddie at St. John’s Catholic Church, located on Squirrel Level Road.