Slain Kalamazoo mother was a happy person who helped others -

2022-05-28 07:24:34 By : Ms. Elaine Yu

Tonya Woody poses for a picture in an undated photo. Woody, 43, was a very happy person who tried to help everyone, her family said. She was fatally shot May 20, 2022, in Kalamazoo.

KALAMAZOO, MI – Tonya Woody was a happy person who cared for everyone.

Woody would want people celebrating her life, not mourning her and being sad, son Daniel Tedford said.

“She’s a very, very happy person,” Tedford, 25, said. “There for a lot of people, gave you the clothes off her back if you didn’t have any.”

Woody, 43, was fatally shot May 20, at her home on East Emerson Street near South Burdick Street. Eric James Smith, the father of her 1-year-old son, was arraigned Monday, May 23, on one felony count each of open murder, carrying concealed weapon and felony firearms in Kalamazoo County District Court.

Related: Domestic dispute led to fatal shooting of Kalamazoo woman, court record shows

She grew up in Covert and loved to go back and spend time with family whenever she could, said Aja’Nique Williams, Tedford’s fiancée.

“She likes to be out there, spending time with her family, barbecuing,” Williams said. “Things like that brought her a lot of happiness. For sure.”

Woody was very lively, like the life of the party, Williams said. People would gravitate toward her because of how friendly and happy she always was.

“If it wasn’t for my mom being connected with so many different people that loved her and everything, I don’t think I could have made it through this,” Tedford said.

Tedford is Woody’s oldest child. She had seven children and five grandchildren. Three of her children are minors and the family is stepping up to provide for them, Tedford said.

“I’ve been trying to stay strong for my family and everything,” Tedford said. “A lot of people lean on me, so it’s a serious responsibility I was left with and I something I gotta deal with and be strong.”

They created a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral costs and also to replace belongings that were in the home, Williams said.

The baby only had a T-shirt and diaper on when they picked him up from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

“We had to start pretty much all over with him. And the girls, they couldn’t get all their things so we’re just trying to rebuild and make sure they’re OK,” Williams said.

One time when Tedford was moving into a new place, he jokingly told Woody that he was moving out of town. She immediately responded, telling him that she didn’t want him to go, she couldn’t allow it and things like that, he said.

“It definitely struck me in a way,” Tedford said. “I know my mom loved me and cared for me, but to see that reaction from her, it definitely shocked me in a big way and it was a lot of the reason why I even stayed in Michigan.”

It’s a big family and a couple siblings have moved away. In that moment, Tedford recalled, it seemed like Woody was worried that her family would be separated even more.

“She loved her kids to death, her grandchildren,” Tedford said. “Like I said, it definitely was a big loss.”

Smith, 32, of Parchment, was denied bond and is in the Kalamazoo County Jail. He is scheduled for a probable cause conference June 2.

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