Exclusive: Durham woman who lost daughter, grandchild to domestic violence speaks to ABC11

Thursday, January 17, 2019
"Her light was starting to dim," says mom of domestic violence victim
A picture of 20-year-old Zhytila Wilkins sits on a Monica Biggs' dinner table in Durham.

DURHAM, N.C. -- A picture of 20-year-old Zhytila Wilkins sits on a Monica Biggs' dinner table in Durham.

Next to it, the tan and gold sandals Wilkins' 10-month-old baby Ruia Reams was supposed to grow into.

Last week, they were both shot to death inside their home on Suffolk Street in Durham.

Biggs talked to ABC11 exclusively. She's still processing the deaths of her daughter and granddaughter.

"For something so much of your life to just disappear, why is the feeling so heavy?" she asked. "Why is it so heavy?"

Their murders account for two of the six homicides in Durham and Durham County this year alone.

On Thursday, city leaders addressed the recent spike in crime.

"We have violence," said Durham Mayor Steve Schewel. "All of our cities have violence. We are not a violent city. Violence in Durham is down."

Durham Police Chief Cerlelyn Davis said the number of violent incidents this year is inconsistent with the crime patterns during the same period last year.

She said overall, violent crimes in 2018 were down 13.5 percent compared to 2017.

Biggs said more needs to be done when it comes to mental illness and gun access to curb this violence.

Biggs said Ramir Reams, who faces charges for their murders, was her daughter's ex-boyfriend and the father of her granddaughter.

"I'm wondering how in the world did he get a gun?" she said. She added that he broke into the house and killed her daughter and granddaughter in their bedroom. She said he then tried to commit suicide.

Biggs said her daughter had just left Reams a few weeks ago. Wilkins and the baby moved in with Biggs and her husband after the breakup, Biggs said. The couple was in Jamaica when the crime occurred.

She's urging parents to pay attention to their children's behavior even if they say everything is okay.

"Her light was starting to dim," she said. "She was acting like she was happy. She was acting like it because she was thinking that's what she's got to do. It was dim. I started to notice. That's when I started interfering."

But Biggs said she didn't think Reams would do something like that.

"I wish I never knew him at all," Biggs said. "I wish he was never brought into this world. I wish he'd never met my daughter. I wish my daughter didn't see his potential because she probably wouldn't deal with him in the first place."

Biggs said her daughter was the sweetest person she knew and that the baby was always happy.

Their funerals are next week.