SEFFNER, Florida - The family of a Tampa mother of three who was just laid to rest over the weekend say they're outraged that her husband, who was accused of domestic violence, was able to walk out of jail Tuesday. They say evidence technicians took tons of bloody evidence out of the couple's home, and they want him locked up for good on murder charges.
Khadijah Dowdy is trying her best to keep it together for her sister Gwendolyn's three children, who are now motherless. Dowdy said when she learned that Gwendolyn's husband, Christopher Belcher, was released from jail Tuesday on domestic violence charges, she lost it. Especially when she learned that Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies escorted him back to her sister's home, where he kicked in the door to get in and gather his belongings.
Those who knew Gwendolyn Belcher best called the 43-year-old "Tissy." Her family reported her missing on Sunday, September 16. A day later, her skeletal remains were found inside her Black Nissan Maxima on Taylor Road and Pruett Road.
Dowdy said she was burned so badly only her skull and two fingers were recovered. She had to be identified through dental records. "We couldn't even say goodbye to her properly. We couldn't see her one last time, give her a kiss and tell her we love her."
Tissy's husband, Christopher, was arrested because the weekend before he came home from a party and, according to detectives, argued with Tissy. Things turned physical, and they say he slapped her across the face.
His bond had been set at a million dollars, but the state attorney's office dropped the charge, saying they just didn't have enough evidence to hold him.
But Dowdy said evidence technicians took several bloody items from her sister's house. She said Christopher's 12-year-old daughter was inside the house when her dad and stepmother's argument turned physical, too.
Dowdy added, "She heard them fighting, and he told her to go back in her room. So if she was in her room, she probably couldn't see, but she heard them in there."
Dowdy said her sister worked hard. She worked at a staffing company and at hospice. Her sister added, "She had the biggest heart and would do anything for anyone."
Larry McKinnon, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said deputies escorted Christopher Belcher because he called them out of concern for his safety.
Mckinnon also said if someone doesn't have a key to their home and they have a right to be there, deputies cannot stop them from breaking in.
He also added that the State Attorney's Office made the decision to drop the charge, but the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is still looking into the case as an active death investigation.