MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A mother is heartbroken after her adult daughter was killed in May in Marion County.
Lasha Bellamy Rowell was allegedly killed by her estranged husband, Corey Rowell, who has a long criminal history that includes prior domestic violence incidents.
“She was such a strong person,” Lasha’s mom, Lizzie Bellamy said. “Such a kind and loving person. And she endured so much trauma.”
Rowell faced a judge for the murder charge during an arraignment at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in June.
“In 2019, in a domestic violence case in Conway with these two parties, Judge, she told the officers at that time the only way that I will ever get out of this marriage is to die,” victim advocate Tammy Erwin said during the hearing. “And today we stand here with her husband, Corey Rowell, being charged with murder.”
Lizzie Bellamy spoke to News13 ahead of the hearing about the pain she’s faced since her daughter’s death.
“I never never, never would have expected that,” she said through tears. “Not Lasha. Not her. She’s so tough. She can defend herself.”
‘Tough’ is just one of the words Bellamy used to describe her daughter. She said Lasha was funny, brought joy to her family and was strong.
“It didn’t matter what it was for; she was there,” Lasha’s younger sister Antazhia Richardson said. “I called her October. I needed her. Oh I was so close to jumping off a ledge. And I called my sister. I didn’t know who else to call. And she talked to me.”
Court records obtained by News13 show Corey Rowell’s criminal history includes prior domestic violence charges. He was charged with domestic violence in a 2019 case involving Lasha in Conway. He pleaded guilty to third-degree domestic violence in 2020.
In January 2020, Rowell was let out on bond after allegedly firing a gun into a home in the city of Marion.
In April 2021, arrest warrants show that Rowell allegedly shot a gun toward Lasha, a little over a month before deputies say he shot and killed her.
“She endured so much trauma, going through that house after her death,” Bellamy said. “I could feel it. I could see it. My God. Holes in the wall. Doors broken down.”
“One of her last messages to me was, ‘I’m leaving Corey. Because he’s not going to change. But I got to figure out how to get out,'” Bellamy said.
Getting out of abusive relationships is easier said than done, Conway PD Chief Dale Long said.
“It is very difficult for the person that is now this victim to be able to escape…because it is someone who has managed everything,” Long said.
In 2019, South Carolina ranked sixth worst in the country for rates of women murdered by men, according to a report by the state Domestic Violence Advisory Committee. The state’s domestic violence homicide rate is more than 1.5 times the national average, according to the same report.
The Myrtle Beach Police Department has an investigator dedicated to domestic violence cases. Officer Michelle Paitsel said when she started around six years ago, she saw between seven and 10 cases a week. She said she now sees over 25 a week.
“It started to increase last year because of everyone staying home and the pandemic and everything,” Paitsel said. “But I still feel that the numbers keep rising on a daily basis.”
The officer is hopeful a new shelter will help the area. State lawmakers have allocated 1.5 million dollars for the Family Justice Center to build a domestic violence shelter in Horry County.
“Having it here locally in Horry County would help tremendously,” she said. “I feel that the victims at that point would step in and take the resources that are being offered. So they don’t have to travel so far or pull the children out of school.”
As Horry County waits on a shelter, Lizzie Bellamy waits for answers.
“It was just amazing and surprising how he got away all of that time with other criminal domestic violence cases,” Bellamy said. “My heart is not calm. My mind can’t be calm. Until we find out truly what really happened to Lasha.”