Bradenton family grieves mother's murder
Herald Staff Writer
BRADENTON - Tears rolled down Katrina Smith's face Sunday as she
clenched an oversized Mother's Day card filled with messages her mother
would never get to read.
Jeannette D. Conwell, a 45-year-old mother of five, was found dead
at her workplace at 5:55 a.m. Sunday after what investigators are
calling a domestic-related crime. Emerson D. Ware, 37, was arrested in
Sarasota and charged with murder in connection with her death, according
to Bradenton police detectives.
Smith learned of her mother's slaying at 9 a.m. Sunday. She said
her mother had wanted to have a cookout Sunday afternoon to celebrate
Mother's Day with her children and nine grandchildren.
Instead, family members, relatives and friends gathered on the
family's front porch in the 1200 block of 31st Avenue East to grieve and
write their heartfelt goodbyes on her card.
"She was loved by a lot of people. She was an angel of God,"
Smith, 25, said.
Conwell, who worked at an assisted living facility at 105 15th St.
E., dated Ware for five years before breaking up three weeks ago, her
relatives said. But Ware refused to let go, they said.
"He didn't have to take her from us like that," Smith said. "He
did it because she didn't want to be with him."
On April 23, Conwell filed for a temporary injunction for
protection against domestic violence from Ware, according to records on
the Manatee Clerk of Court's Web site.
The injunction was served April 29.
But that injunction was dismissed May 4 after a 25-minute hearing
at the Manatee courthouse, records show. The online records did not
disclose further details about the hearing and did not identify which
judge or attorneys participated in the proceeding.
A tip led Bradenton Police to the Cadillac Motel, at 4021 N.
Tamiami Trail, in Sarasota, late Sunday afternoon. There, Bradenton
detectives, with the assistance of Sarasota police, said they found Ware
inside one of the rooms and arrested him at 5 p.m.
Ware did not resist arrest, according to Bradenton Police
Detective James Wilkinson. Police did not say whether a weapon was
retrieved and would not talk about Conwell's cause of death.
Police attributed the arrest to tips and leads received all day
"Communication from the community helped bring closure to this
incident," Wilkinson said.
Ware was being held late Sunday in the Sarasota County jail
Conwell's family members said they did not know of Ware's criminal
past and that police notified them of Ware's arrest Sunday evening.
"Justice has been served," Smith said.
History of violence
Bradenton police had another encounter with Ware in October 1997,
when they say he attacked a different woman and then struck her father
when her father tried to help her.
Ware, then 31, followed the woman home from work and pulled into
her father's driveway in the 1500 block of 14th Street East. Brandishing
a large knife, Ware tried to grab the woman out of her car and smashed
the driver-side window, police reports stated.
She jumped out of the passenger-side door and tried to run away
but Ware caught her. He threw her on the ground and began punching her
in the face.
Her father ran out and tried to help his daughter, but Ware
punched him in the mouth and knocked him to the ground. Ware then began
beating the woman with a wooden chair, breaking it over her back,
reports stated. Ware then drove away.
Bradenton Police pulled Ware over a few blocks away, but he drove
off during the traffic stop. He then drove back to the victim's father's
home and rammed her car with his.
He was arrested and jailed, and the woman was taken to Manatee
Memorial Hospital for treatment. In 1998, he was sentenced to a
combination of jail time and probation and was ordered to stay away from
the victim and her immediate family.
A mother remembered
Conwell, who had been married for 15 years earlier in her life,
had been a nurse for 25 years and loved her job, relatives said.
The mother and grandmother was ready to move past the relationship
with Ware and start anew, Smith said.
Instead, Conwell's five children - Kevin Sloan, 29, Charles
Manning, 21, Teneal Manning, 20, Timothy Conwell, 15, and Smith - must
now make funeral arrangements to bury a woman who was "loved by
everyone," Smith said.
The family plans to hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Thursday
night where detectives found Conwell's body.
Conwell would have turned 46 on June 10.
"She did nothing but help people, and she was loved by a lot of
people," Smith said, her eyes welling up with tears. "She ain't coming
back no more."