A funeral is set for Friday for the 19-year-old pregnant woman found buried last week in a wooded area of DeKalb County.
The body of Téa Choates was discovered Aug. 13 behind the Lithonia home she shared with her grandmother and fiancé, 18-year-old Aldeyshaun Locklear. He was arrested hours later on a murder charge after allegedly confessing to the crime.
Locklear was among the concerned family members who filed a missing person report with DeKalb County police after Choates disappeared Aug. 6.
Choates spent much of her childhood in Johns Creek, where she attended Northview High School and was a member of the Stingray Allstars, a competitive cheerleading team. Her parents and younger sister have since moved to the Tampa area. Choates’ mother, Ebony King, runs a home for girls rescued from human trafficking and domestic abuse in Palmetto.
Before her daughter’s death, King told AJC.com she implored Choates to join them in Florida, but she chose to try to make a turbulent relationship with Locklear work. She was three months pregnant.
“She really just wanted the family,” King said. “She said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to leave him because I really want a family. He’s being much nicer now.’”
According to DeKalb County police, Locklear confessed to killing Choates inside their home after an argument got out of hand.
Her death was one of two recent domestic violence homicides to send shockwaves through the DeKalb County community. On Aug. 1, Aleka Simmons, 27, was allegedly shot and killed by her boyfriend, Otis Walker. An exchange of gunfire at their Stonecrest home also wounded a DeKalb County police officer.
Walker is facing a murder charge in Simmons’ death.
Shelley Serdahely, the interim executive director of Men Stopping Violence, said her organization has noticed an increased interest in prevention work in DeKalb County. The nonprofit organization seeks to empower men to get off the sidelines and take action to end violence against women.
“Men, all people for that matter, generally don’t think about domestic violence until something like this happens,” she said.
Churches are calling to learn how they can get involved. The county has put more resources toward prevention and advocacy. Serdahely said she hopes more victims will reach out for help, and more community groups will take steps to intervene.
“Let’s not just wait until we have a tragedy, lets do something about domestic violence now,” she said.
Choates’ funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at First Iconium Baptist Church, 542 Moreland Ave., Atlanta. Family and friends will celebrate her life Saturday at Costley Mill Park in Conyers from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Laura Jaka, a friend of the family, is continuing fundraising efforts for Choates’ burial fund. A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $9,000 of its $13,000 goal as of Thursday.