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Shady Cove residents honor murder victim

SHADY COVE — When her best friend finished speaking at Wednesday night's candlelight vigil for Makiala Upton, there was hardly a dry eye in the room.

Upton died of a gunshot wound Nov. 23 in her Shady Cove home, a victim of what authorities said was a murder-suicide committed by her husband, Dewayne Upton.

"I have to say that there were a lot of people who tried to stop this," said Shivala Ostrowicki. "She was my best friend. She was beautiful. And she loved her children more than anything in the world.

"I have to tell you that we don't know that those of us who were closest to her actually saw this coming, or ever believed — and I think you can spend a lot of time talking to somebody, and knowing that something is not right and knowing that there's only so much you can do. Only she knows everything."

When Ostrowicki paused, overcome, Steve Willey, another friend, cautioned that people need to pay attention when someone tells them "they're going to do something."

"You have to look at that," he said, "like ... maybe it's the real thing, a real threat and act upon it, and do whatever you can do to get them out of it. Like Shivala says, we never thought that anything like this could ever happen. It should never come to the ultimate."

Ostrowicki said the family has started a trust for Makiala's four orphaned children at U.S. Bank in the name of Ian Levin. She said she believed donations can be made at any branch.

Gerry Sea, hosting the vigil for the Jackson County Council Against Domestic and Sexual Violence spoke about the children.

"We really can't put words to what life is like for the children," she said. They'll wonder their whole life what happened and why. Their life will never be the same."

There were seven other victims of domestic violence in the county this year. Tabasha Criado and her four children died on July 18 in Medford, and Jessica Bethany died Sept. 4 in Central Point.

"We can't wait for the next vigil," said Sea. "We have to end domestic violence."

The group stepped outside for the vigil, holding lights in silence to honor Makiala.

"Domestic violence comes on so many different levels,"said Ostrowicki, "when you can feel someone alienating you, it's a red flag you see, that if you don't act right away — within a month of being alienated from us something had changed and ... .

"Makiala was was strong," she said, "and she was an angel, and she loved to dance, and she loved to sing and loved children — her children are so beautiful — and she loved my children, too, just like they were her own. That's the legacy she leaves to us."

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.

Around 20 people attended a candlelight vigil held for Makiala Upton Wednesday evening at the Upper Rogue Community Center in Shady Cove. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore