Family says history of domestic violence preceded mother’s Buckhead slaying

LaBarbara Milsap

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

LaBarbara Milsap

Two of LaBarbara Milsap’s four children heard the series of gunshots outside their Buckhead condominium, not knowing their mother lay dying on the pavement.

Too familiar with the sound of gunfire, they pretended to sleep and waited for daylight, their aunt Carla Miles said. Milsap and her children, ages 1 to 15, were living with Miles after leaving their father in Tennessee.

But Miles was out of town for work on Sept. 25. She was not aware that Walter Milsap had come to stay at her condo, despite what Miles said was a 14-year history of domestic violence between him and her sister.

She thought LaBarbara was getting out.

RELATED: Husband turns himself in after woman shot, killed at Buckhead condo

Atlanta police believe Walter Milsap, 38, shot his 36-year-old wife in the parking lot of the complex on Lakeland Drive early that morning and left her there to die. He turned himself in on a felony murder charge in Rutherford County, Tennessee, before the day was over.

Milsap was extradited to Atlanta on Tuesday and booked into the Fulton County Jail. It’s not clear if he has retained an attorney.

Walter Milsap

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

“I was not aware he was in the house,” Miles told on Tuesday. “I had no idea. I should have paid attention to the patterns. She stopped calling me less and less.”

Miles said her sister was shot multiple times. The first was at close range to her torso, the second to her back, and the third came from above as her attacker stood over her body.

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As Miles prepares to bury her sister this weekend, she is angry and numb. The death could have been prevented, she said, and she hopes it won’t be in vain.

“We go back,” Miles said, herself a survivor of domestic abuse. “A person that does not have the experience of abuse does not know why. The woman is immune to it. She thinks there is going to be a change, and she has no idea there is no change in that man’s heart. It’s 10 times harder to get out once you go back in.”

Miles said her sister hid her pain. To her coworkers at the Chick-fil-A stand at Lenox Square, her marriage was intact. Her coworkers never knew Miles was paying Milsap’s bills and supporting her children while they were in hiding, she said.

MORE: Killing renews debate on bill to ban gun ownership by domestic abusers

Milsap went to live at Miles’ condo after she was kicked out of women’s shelters following past reconciliation attempts, her sister said. The same day Milsap died, Miles learned a friend’s 20-something daughter was killed by a boyfriend.

“We are losing them younger and younger,” she said. “This has to come to an end. You never know who it may be. It could be someone in your family, it could be your neighbor. No one knew LaBarbara was going through this.”

Police arrived at Miles’ condo a little after 1 a.m. on Sept. 25. A detective told Milsap’s older children, two students at North Atlanta High School and a third at Jackson Middle, their mother was dead. They were in the custody of the state before Miles could get to them, she said.

Neighbors are raising money to support the children, who will now split their time between their mother's siblings. A GoFundMe campaign has raised half of its $30,000 goal. A local church, Peachtree Presbyterian, is helping with the burial expenses.

Miles said she also hopes to establish a memorial fund to help victims of domestic violence in her sister’s honor.

A wake is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at R.W. Andrews Mortuary in East Point. The funeral will be held in Mississippi this weekend.

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