The family of a woman charged in the fatal stabbing of her mother are breaking their silence. Kennishewa Whitley’s sisters tell WANE 15 that she endured years of sexual abuse at the hands of multiple people – including her own mother.
LaQuilla and SueQuinta Booker sat down exclusively with 15 Finds Out reporter Angelica Robinson nearly two weeks after their mother, Stacy Jennings, was stabbed to death at a southeast side apartment complex.
Police initially responded to the 1300 block of Greene Street around 3 a.m. to investigate what they called an “unknown problem” on Dec. 11. Court documents reveal that Whitley called 911 and told the dispatcher that her mother tried to assault her and that she killed her.
Later, she told investigators that she woke up to her mother groping her. According to court documents, she told police she “lost it.” The two began fighting then she stabbed Jennings multiple times in the chest and neck.
“When I heard that my sister was involved in it, immediately my first thought was, ‘what did my mom do to her?'” said LaQuilla.
Whitley’s relationship with her mother is a complicated one, according to her sisters. Jennings battled drug addiction and was in and out of prison, halfway houses, and drug treatment centers their entire lives, they said.
As a result, Jennings lost custody of Whitley and her five siblings when they were young.
Recently, Jennings had been released from jail. After spending some time in a rehab facility, Whitley agreed to let her mother move in with her while she tried to get her life back on track.
“We were always taught to love and respect my mother,” said LaQuilla. “she did a lot of things that were horrible that most people with a maternal instinct would not do. At the end of the day that’s our mom. I know Kennishewa loved my mom as well. [The stabbing] is not something she would have ever imagined or ever wanted to do.”
LaQuilla and SueQuinta believe Whitley’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by Jennings. They said it would not have been the first time.
“She has been assaulted her whole life,” said SueQuinta. “By different predators.”
They said their mother was one of them.
“I believe everything because I’m the other child that my mom sexually assaulted for years,” said SueQuinta.
Whitley told her siblings she was sexually assaulted by Jennings in the past, however it was never reported it to police. Whitley also revealed to her family that she had been molested by her adoptive father.
It is story that she only recently shared publicly on a Facebook page called “Justice for Kennishewa.”
“It took a lot of convincing for her to actually come forward with her story because the world is very judgemental,” said SueQuinta. “She was aware of that before she came forward with a small part of the story of her life.”
Whitley, formerly known as Raina Swopshire, wrote several posts detailing allegations of sexual abuse against Jason Swopshire. According to a post, Whitley was adopted by the Swopshires after she and her brother lived in their home as foster children.
The abuse is said to have happened from the time she was 14 years old until she was 16.
“By finding her voice she wanted to help other people find their voice and be able to tell their story,” said LaQuilla. “She got a lot of positive feedback on it.”
Charges of sexual misconduct with a minor were filed against Jason Swopshire Nov. 25, ten years after the alleged abuse. Weeks later, Whitley would be charged with murdering her mother after alleging that, she too, sexually assaulted her.
Swopshire is out on bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 22.
Whitley remains in Allen County jail on a murder charge.
Her family says she should not be in jail. They want to bring her home so she can get the help she desperately needs.
“A lot of people have failed her throughout her life,” said LaQuilla. “We don’t want her to be failed again.”
Whitley is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 8.