By Stan Friedman
MANTECA, CA (November 2, 2011) – A 26-year-old man has been charged with the Sunday slaying of his mother, Kathleen McGehee, a member of Stockton Covenant Church who also was a staunch advocate for victims of abuse.
Police found McGehee, 55, in her home at 6:15 p.m. Monday. Dawson McGehee, 26, who was living with his parents, was arrested around 1:25 a.m. Tuesday as he was driving in the community.
Police have not released specific details of the murder, but Dawson McGehee was arrested after authorities interviewed other family members. He is being held without bail.
McGehee’s husband, Tom, was in China on business at the time of the murder and returned to Manteca Tuesday evening.
McGehee was commissioned in September as a local advocate for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) ministry during the Pacific Southwest Conference Women Ministries fall retreat, which was held at Mission Springs Conference Center.
Justin McGehee, 28, the oldest son in the family, said the death was especially difficult to comprehend because his mother had comforted so many women who had been abused. She was always “pouring her life into people,” he told a local news outlet.
“The AVA ministry has truly lost a humble yet passionate woman for those who suffer from abuse,” said the ministry’s director, Yvonne DeVaughn.
McGehee hadn’t been sure whether she would have the skills to minister to victims of abuse, but after going through AVA training, she believed it was a calling for her. She even sought more training through the Crisis Center in Stockton.
“Those who experienced her help said that she had a heart for listening,” says DeVaughn.
Bud Locke, pastor of Stockton Covenant Church, said, “She believed that not only could the church help victims of abuse, but we should.” He said the community was shocked by the killing, adding that he is unaware of any previous instances of violent behavior on Dawson’s part.
“We feel a terrible sadness,” said Meagan Gillan, executive minister of the Department of Women Ministries. “Katy’s passion to stand with those who have experienced abuse spurs all of us on to step in to the difficult places where we can help the hurting. Our hearts go out to Tom and her children. We will be praying for all of them as they process this tragedy.”
Members of the church are waiting for the crime scene to be cleared so they can clean the house before the family returns to their home, Locke said.