GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — The family of Clarrissa Winchester spoke to 7NEWS on Friday after Winchester was found dead with her newborn son Wednesday night.

This comes after deputies charged 21-year-old Tyler Wilkins in this case.

“She was my baby. She meant everything to me,” said Melinda Winchester, the victim’s mother. “I can’t even talk to her now,” she said.

This week, everything changed for the Winchester family.

From left to right: Clarrissa Winchester, Michael Winchester (victim’s father), Melinda Winchester (victim’s mother)

“We tried to call her. Melinda tried to call her, starting at 7:30 in the morning, and we just never got an answer. We tried to call his phone. It rang a few times and did the same and so we just figured they were in bed asleep. And after a while, his phone started going straight to voicemail. Hers continued to ring throughout the whole process and just never got an answer, and we know that just wasn’t Clarrissa and that’s not our relationship with her,” said Michael Winchester, Clarrissa’s father.

He was worried about his daughter, who was seven months pregnant. So, on Wednesday night after not hearing from her for hours, he went looking for her and found her boyfriend at a home on Saw Mill Road.

“We decided to go check on her,” Michael said. “I went to his door, and I could tell right away that something was wrong. He went back inside his home. Shut his door and we immediately called the police, and they came right out, and everything started unfolding. Little did we know she was in the home. He beat her to death without mercy.”

Investigators said Wilkins kidnapped Winchester and beat her to death. Greenville County deputies have charged Wilkins with murder, kidnapping and unlawful conduct toward a child after he failed to seek medical attention for a “newly born fetus.”

“The baby would’ve meant…did mean everything to us. And we refer to him as a baby,” Michael said. “We’d been buying and patiently waiting to meet this baby boy. We were robbed of the opportunity to get to be g-paw and g-maw,” he said.

A background check on Wilkins shows he was charged with domestic violence and attempted murder in December.

Michael said he and his daughter were victims in the past.

“We had an incident where you know we tried to work through and forgive with another domestic violence situation where I dropped charges, where he had actually fired a gun at me and Clarrissa standing together,” Michael said. “That was in December this past year,” he said.

Now he’s advocating for others suffering through domestic violence.

“We knew he was controlling, manipulative and psychologically abusive, but we’ve tried to warn Clarrissa of these red flags, and things, but she just wanted to love him. She thought she could save him. She really thought she could save him. She didn’t want to give up on him,” Michael said.  

“Clarissa would want everybody to know that we will stand strong in the face of any challenge to put a stop to this type of behavior,” Michael said. “It’s not okay. It’s not okay to treat anyone like this.”

Now, the family is remembering the woman they said gave their family so much love and joy.

“She was such a beautiful soul. She meant everything to everyone,” said Kaitlin Wood, the victim’s cousin. “She wanted to become a lawyer. She wanted to give a voice to those who didn’t have one.”

“She was kind. Just a beautiful spirit. She was the type of person when she walked in the room, it lit up. She just had that personality,” said Charles Gary Winchester, the victim’s grandfather. “That’s what we’ll miss more than anything in this world. That love that she showed that presence that she showed…that she brought out in any of us.”

They want the world to feel her spirit forever.

“That sun shining through right there, that’s my baby girl. That’s my baby girl saying hello daddy,” Michael said as the sun came out during the interview. “Shining for papa,” Charles said.

“She loves what we’re doing right now. The empowerment that this is giving her situation. She loves this,” Michael said.

The family said they plan to have a visitation from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Golden Grove Baptist Church. They also said a private service will be held nearby — beginning at 2 p.m.

Michael Winchester said anyone can help with the arrangements by contacting the family via email:

Michael said the funds will be used to assist with things like funeral and burial expenses.