FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (WTVD) --Tillman Freeman, who is accused in the brutal stabbing deaths of his two young daughters, appeared in court Monday. The tragedy involving a toddler and a newborn has relatives of the victims agonizing about whether they could have done more to prevent the tragedy.
Some told ABC11 that they saw signs that something bad could happen.
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Delores McFadden and her husband, Daniel McDougal, raised Candice Smith Freeman. Both say Candice's marriage to Tillman started off like a fairytale. Both were in love, and that Tillman was a great father to their two girls.
But about two years ago, Candice's grandmother noticed some changes and suspected her granddaughter was being abused.
"He choked her one time, put the knife to her throat, and then a gun to her back, and told her he was going to kill her. That was last week," McFadden said.
Just days later, Tillman would warn his wife after she gave birth to their second daughter that she would never see the children again.
A GoFundMe page has been started to help with funeral costs. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE OR DONATE
Candice's grandparents say they wished they had stepped in sooner, but didn't think Candice would listen to their advice.
"I just wished I could've got them, you know," McDougal said. "All Candice had to do was come to us and let us know what was going on up there. She was scared."
Iva Clark, a Domestic violence counselor, knows that fear firsthand after she escaped a violent relationship that nearly killed her and her unborn child.
"What most people don't seem to understand is, it's not necessarily always fear but it's love," Clark said. "And when you're in love with someone you can become blind to certain things."
Meanwhile as heartbroken as the family is, they're using this situation to encourage other women to get out, and seek help.
If you or someone you know is struggling to get out of an abusive relationship, there are resources available:
Cumberland County Domestic Abuse Crisis Hotline: (910) 677-2532
North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
North Carolina Department of Justice help for domestic violence victims
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