The uncle of the Philadelphia woman brutally murdered last week by police say her ex-boyfriend is re-counting the backstory of their relationship.
On the Garfield Street block where she lived, Maya Stith's uncle Judson Felder reflected on the bright light snuffed out far too soon.
"She seen herself improving and she felt as though he wasn't moving with her. So she decided to move on and he just wouldn't let her go," he said.
Stith, a mother of three young children, was on her way to earning a degree from Bloomsburg University. For two years, she worked at a law office around the corner from her home. She did legal research there.
Daniel Conner was her boss.
"Maya was a very smart girl, had a lot of common sense and had aspirations of becoming a lawyer," he explained.
But Stith's relationship with Lawrence Crawley was a big hurdle. Felder says the signs were there from the beginning. Just weeks after Crawley moved in with Stith last September.
"He hit her--six stitches--and we had to confront him about that. We thought it was settled but she brought him back," Felder said.
Felder says for months, Stith kept details of her on-again-off-again relationship with Crawley a secret from family members. He says they knew nothing, for example, of the May incident in which Crawley pled guilty to strangling her.
Then, last Wednesday, Felder says his niece took her kids to the movies.
"She came back and said, uncle Judson, he's following me. He's downstairs.' I put my clothes on and confronted him downstairs. Got him out of here," Felder said.
30 hours later, police say Crawley confronted Stith in the parking lot of her job in Whitemarsh Township and stabbed her repeatedly, And then, "He drove the car over top of her, again and again and again. And he crushed her," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a press conference last Friday.
"I just dropped my head and went to my knees. I had her daughter with me when I heard the news. And she was saying, 'uncle Judson, uncle Judson, what's wrong?" Felder said.
Felder believes his niece had a restraining order against Crawley and had called police to keep him away.
In the end, none of it mattered
"She's been doing her part to try to get rid of him. He just-- just kept coming back," Felder said.
Lawrence Crawley remains hospitalized in western Pa. after trying to set himself on fire when apprehended by state police on the turnpike.
Stith who was a couple of credits shy of that college degree and perhaps a new career and new life will be buried Friday.