6/28/2013 10:35 PM
by Karen Franklin
HILLTOP - The life of 24-year-old Santanea Byers was cut short after her disappearance, and her mother is still mourning.
"Just for this to happen at a time when she was actually trying to turn her life around and do better and get back on track and live right," her mother Dawn Miller told WOAY."
Santanea was a cheerleader and track star in high school. She had a passion for rescuing animals, like her three-legged Pitbull that sits on her front porch, still waiting for her to come home. She is also a mother of two young boys and was trying to stay clean.
"She had a lot of struggles, and there was a lot of bad times and a lot of good times too, but she was a really good kid," her mother recalled. "Just got wrapped up in some bad stuff right out of high school."
On Wednesday, State Police arrested a man for her murder --Santanea's on-and-off-again boyfriend William "Fred" Cody of Fayetteville.
Her mother was skeptical of their 39-year age gap. Then, after two years together, she said jealousy made Cody abusive.
"He didn't want her wearing makeup," she said. "He didn't want her going anywhere. He would call her and text her constantly, 'Where you at? What are you doing? What are you wearing? Who are you with?'"
State Police said the 63-year-old admitted to disposing of Santanea's remains in the outbuilding of an Oak Hill home, but the remains have yet to be positively identified. Now Santanea's mother, brother and family are planning her memorial on the Thurmond River, a place the young mother loved to visit.
"We would just kind of go sit at the waterfall bank and just talk and just get away from everybody and everything," Miller said. "That was always her safe place, her quiet place."