WESTLAND, Mich. (FOX 2) - Celeste Mays looked up to her mom's husband like he was a father. She admired Jimmie Brown, better known as Kent, as a role model.
But a gruesome discovery in early January turned her world upside down, leaving her disheartened by the man she thought she knew.
"I hate him now and he is no father of mine," she said.
Brown was a well-known small-town rapper in Detroit who went by Supa Emcee.
Mays came home last Sunday to a scene that didn't feel right. She couldn't place it, but something was wrong inside the Westland apartment. Then, she found her mom, Kelly Mays, fatally stabbed inside the apartment.
"I touched her foot, and it was cold," she said. "I have nightmares about it so every time I fall asleep, I see it."
Kelly Mays had been stabbed 17 times by Brown, who turned himself into Westland police within hours of killing her. It left Celeste spinning, unsure how to approach life now that she had the added responsibility of caring for her sibling.
"Now I gotta fend for my sister and my sister's 14 and it’s a lot of responsibility," said Celeste.
The cold irony of the murder is that Kelly was a domestic violence survivor from a previous relationship, and she had dedicated her life and her profession to helping others caught in similar circumstances.
Kelly had previously recounted her experience on FOX 2 in 2019, when she talked about an assault with her youngest child's father that left her hospitalized.
The ripples of losing Kelly has also reached her parents, who are heartbroken over losing their daughter.
"It's devastating. You know, everybody loved her," Ralph Mays, Kelly's dad said. "I believe he might've even loved her - I don't know. He seemed like he did, but I don't know why people do horrific things like that."
Ralph is a retired Detroit police officer. He said the abuse was hidden.
"It's like a constant cycle, they can't pull themselves out," he said.
Kelly and Brown were separated at the beginning of the year, but kept in touch. They had been together for 13 years, with violence a factor in their relationship. Celeste and her sister had begged the two to leave each other time after time.
"Even when they did fight in front of us, he would walk away. The one time we’re not there, he took her life like it was nothing."
Brown was denied bond and will be back in court at the end of the month.
If you or a loved one are suffering from a situation involving domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233.
The Michigan Hotline - 866-Voice DV, the national hotline is 800-799-Safe and online The Hotline.org