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Family pushes for awareness after Virginia man's domestic violence killing: 'Maybe we could have helped'

McAfee: 'It's really hard to wrap your mind around it when it's happening'
John Kilgore
Roel Delua
Posted at 10:59 AM, Apr 16, 2023

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Shannon McAfee wishes she'd known more about her younger brother's abusive marriage.

"If we had truly known the severity of what was going on, maybe we could have helped him take action to lead to different results that he could possibly still be here," McAfee said.

Her brother, John Kilgore, was just 32 when he was killed in 2019. McAfee describes her brother as "just a light in the room. He was always smiling, always laughing," she recently told News 3.

McAfee remembers Thanksgiving 2018 when something about her brother seemed off.

"He just seemed very stressed and not himself," she said.

John Kilgore
John Kilgore

Then that December, Kilgore moved out of his home on Rose Petal Drive and told his husband, Roel Delua, he wanted to get a divorce.

About a month later, John went to the house to sell a desk, not expecting Delua to be there.

His mom drove him there and after the person buying the desk left, Delua stabbed Kilgore to death, set the house on fire, and then hit Kilgore's mom with his car.

"It's really hard to wrap your mind around it when it's happening. Even now, you think back on it and it still is almost unbelievable that that actually happened — that my brother had to go through what we went through and my family is still dealing with it," said McAfee.

McAfee's mother was bruised and had a cut to her head, but survived the attack.

Delua later pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including second-degree murder, and is serving 30 years in prison.

"I think that's the hardest thing about these types of situations, is that you never can bring yourself to believe that another human being is capable of doing that," said McAfee.

Local advocates say the case exemplifies familial violence when threats or violent acts are committed against anyone in a family group.

"Virginia Beach is resource-rich and reaching out is very important. The resource is going to be different for each person," said LaSonda Carson, program director at the Samaritan House.

The Samaritan House offers resources and help to domestic violence victims, whether it be emergency housing, support groups, or financial help, among other things.

"It's an issue that we all can't avoid, so we can choose to be part of the solution for it," said Carson.

Carson says domestic violence is all about control and power, adding that if people are leaving a relationship, they should develop a plan to get safely out.

"Everyone [should have] a plan so if that person shows up, we all know what to do. We all know to immediately call the police and not engage this person, or having strength in numbers, having multiple people around, or leaving the area for a period of time might be a safer option," said Carson.

McAfee believes there's more that could've been done to save her brother and wrote a song about it.

She worked with a local recording studio to record it.

"I want to share my brother's story and I'm open to sharing his story because I'm hopeful that it will help change the course of other people's lives in the same situation," said McAfee.

The song is called "If I Would Have Known."

The songwriting process served as a coping mechanism, but also as a way to spread awareness.

"Get the help you need because no one deserves what happened to my brother and that's the message of the song," she said.

Here's how you can contact the Samaritan House.

Credits for "If I Would Have Known:"
- Lyrics by Shannon McAfee
- Produced by Andrew Coleman
- Composed by Andrew Coleman and Daniel Peterson
- Recorded and Mixed by Andrew Coleman for Righteous Racket Records
- Vocalist-London Young
- Guitarist- Eric Peterson
- Recording Studio- VB Recording Arts

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