'It's very painful': Raleigh family mourns loss of loved one killed while working at recovery center

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Raleigh family mourns after loved one stabbed to death in Durham
Family and friends mourn the loss of a Raleigh woman stabbed to death while working in Durham.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- June Onkundi was a woman who wore many hats. She was a wife, a sister, a mother to four children, a cousin, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and to everyone else -- a friend.

"It's very painful. We are saddened," Onkundi's brother Andrew Nyabwari said.

"If there was a guardian that needed food to be cooked," Nyabwari said his sister would make it.

Tuesday afternoon, Durham Police responded to a call at the Freedom House Recovery Center after reports of a woman stabbed.

According to her family, Onkundi was stabbed to death by one of her patients while she was at work.

"The same very population that she was the passion and desire to help, is the one that finally took her away from us and left us grieving with four children and a husband," said Nyabwari.

More than two dozen friends and family members gathered at Onkundi's residence in Raleigh to mourn and celebrate Wednesday evening.

"She was somebody who values family very much. Everything that she would do is family-centered. That is what I'm going to remember about her," said Onditi Nunda, who traveled to Raleigh from Texas after learning his cousin's wife had been killed.

"To then come back and work within this mental health community, you know that just basically sees who she was," Nunda said. "She had a global perspective about (mental health). Obviously this has now been cut short and it's very, very sad."

Family members said Onkundi was set to begin a doctorate program at Duke in January 2023 to further her education and help.

Her brother and others are left to process how June died and if anything could have been done to prevent this tragedy.

"She wasn't just some woman," he said. "I'm confused. Because a place of work is supposed to provide the safety mechanisms for the staff members to be safe. Just to make sure another family does not go through what we are going through today."

The president of North Carolina Nurses Association released a statement Thursday on the death of Onkundi saying, "We are heartbroken by the senseless death of our colleague and fellow NCNA member, June Onkundi. Our prayers go out to her friends and family. She dedicated her life to helping others and we should all be proud of the positive impact she had on some of the most vulnerable patients. Her loss has shaken the nursing profession throughout North Carolina. Violence in the workplace is one of the greatest challenges facing nurses, and the problem has grown exponentially over the last few years. It is my desperate hope that June Onkundi's death serves as a turning point and that those of us in healthcare can truly begin to address this problem," Meka Ingram said.