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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Speaker at Northview tells dangers of dating violence

Friday, February 29, 2008

Debbie Norris, holding the picture of her daughter Heather, spoke to students about domestic violence and her daughter's murder at Northview High School on Friday. Lori Combs Photo.
The mother of a murdered daughter spoke to Northview High School students Friday morning about the dangers of dating violence.

Debbie Norris spoke to an auditorium of students about her daughter Heather.

Heather was 20 years old when she was murdered by an abusive boyfriend. Norris said her daughter was a beautiful, wonderful person who loved sports, animals and her family and friends. Heather was always smiling and loved to have fun.

Heather went to high school at Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis.

While in high school she got involved with Joshua Bean. From the start, Norris knew her daughter's relationship with Bean was dangerous.

"I knew something was wrong," she said. "When he would come over he never came in, he just honked for her."

Norris said when Heather was with Bean she wouldn't smile and couldn't eat. Norris said she loved her daughter and wanted her to be happy.

At home, Heather was always smiling and laughing. Norris said Heather's mood would change as soon as Bean was back in her life.

Heather began to not care about her appearance, worried a lot and didn't hang out with her friends or family anymore. Heather's mother got the sinking feeling that something was wrong.

Her daughter finally admitted to her family that Bean was beating her. Norris said every time her daughter would leave him, he would manipulate her back into his life. Heather's relationship was on and off. Heather filed charges against him for abuse but returned to him shortly after.

"Heather thought she could change him," Norris said. "Heather thought she had everything under control and could handle him."

After high school Heather got accepted into Indiana University. She received a grant and scholarship.

Norris said her daughter was excited. But after beginning school the happiness ended.

Heather began to miss class and her grades failed. Shortly after, she dropped out. Norris found out that the reason was because of Bean. She said he controlled Heather and didn't want her to go. Heather was offered a full scholarship at another college, but turned it down because of him.

As the beatings continued, Heather tried to hide the marks. In 2006 Bean beat Heather repeatedly giving her a concussion. Charges were filled against him. Norris said her daughter was tired of the abuse but couldn't get away from Bean.

While living at home, on March 20, 2007, Norris said her daughter left the house and it was the last day she saw her. Heather would always call or text. Norris said she had a horrible feeling that something was wrong. But she couldn't do much because Heather was an adult. On April 24, 2007, Norris filled a missing persons report.

In late May, the family was at home when word came about Heather. Norris said she recalls a police cruiser pulling in the drive but can't remember a lot of what happened that night.

Norris sat down and her cousin, an officer, sat across from her, holding Norris's hands as she gave her the news. They found Heather and Bean had confessed to killing her. Norris said her cousin wanted to tell her what happened before she heard it from somewhere else.

With tears in her eyes, Norris described what her daughter went through. Bean had stabbed her repeatedly and tried to burn her body. After that, he dismembered her body and placed it into black, trash bags. Bean then drove around the south side of Indianapolis trying to dispose of the bags at various locations.

"My life is a nightmare and I'll never wake up," Norris said. "This was my baby girl. I was supposed to protect her."

Bean, 23, is in jail. While the case is still in the courts, Norris said she goes to schools to inform teenagers about the dangers of abusive relationships.

Norris said no matter how bad her heart hurts, she wants to reach out and touch the lives of teenagers. Norris told the students she didn't want them to ever go through something like she did.

"I needed to spread her story," Norris said. "I don't want to see anyone go through this. To live without someone you loved and lived for. I don't want this to happen to anyone else."

Norris said domestic violence was words she never really knew until now. She lived for her daughter and wants to spread her daughter's story, to warn others. After her speech, Norris showed a slide show of Heather's photos with Eric Clapton's, "Tears in Heaven" playing in the background. She closed with a message to the students.

"Be true to yourself, believe in yourself, don't ever doubt that you are in control of your destiny," she said.

Susan Treash, Guidance counselor for Northview, said she saw Norris on TV while she spoke at Indiana State University's program "Take Back The Night" which deals with domestic violence. She said together with Hannah Hoopingarner, sophomore, they planned an event where Norris could come out and speak to students.

"I knew some of what was going on," Hoopingarner said. " I was worried everyone wouldn't get it but afterwards they stood and I knew they got it."

Hoopingarner said she felt the story and was touched by it. She had tears in her eyes. She said she was so glad people were moved and showed Norris great respect by giving her a standing ovation.

For more information on Heather's story and domestic violence, visit Norris's website www.heathersvoice.net. The website has multiple links on domestic violence. The website also takes donations and sells bracelets for the cause.

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my heart goes out to Debbie, I am thankful she is able to go and speak to the young kids, not only girls but guys are also in abusive relationships. I had a friend killed also many years ago by her controlling husband, and i always talked to my daughter the signs and always told her never stay in that kind of relationship. thank god she had listen to some of what i said she didnt stick around and she was at school today and listen to you, And she relaized what i was saying was real and it opened her eyes even more to the dangers and signs. When i was raising my son, i always heard of women being abused, Thought i'd never have to think of my son in that kind of relationship, Well was i wrong, maybe if i would of talked to him like i talk to my daughter about it he would not of lived that life for 4 to 5 yrs. So parents talk to your sons as well as to your daughters.

-- Posted by pepsilady on Sat, Mar 1, 2008, at 12:20 AM

As a mother of three daughters, one of which will be dating soon, it pains me to think of what this poor woman and her child have went through! It opens my eyes more to the waiting dangers. I have always played out scenerios in the back of my mind, and tried my hardest to teach them that violence is NOT ok, and that they can be and do anything that they set their minds to in life. Thank you to Miss Debbie for your courage and strength, you are doing a wonderful job!

-- Posted by Southernized on Sat, Mar 1, 2008, at 1:15 PM

I am very proud of Debbie! As a mother of a daughter in her first relationship, I am very happy she listened to a real life story instead of always thinking MOM is making this up to fit the moment. She came home and we talked about this for a long time and again when Saturday's paper was here.

-- Posted by Becki on Mon, Mar 3, 2008, at 7:43 AM

I wish NCMS would do this program as well. My daughter has already had a stalker and was in the 7th grade when it happened. Maybe early education would be good too!

I am glad this mom could honor her childs memory by helping others. She is to be admirerd

-- Posted by madmom61 on Mon, Mar 3, 2008, at 3:27 PM

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