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Cleveland mother of 7 allegedly killed by boyfriend, heartbroken family wants answers

Posted at 8:30 PM, Apr 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-18 20:30:58-04

A family is heartbroken and demanding justice for a 57-year-old Cleveland woman who was allegedly shot and killed by her boyfriend on Tuesday.

Many people gathered in front of Holly Watkins' home on Emery Avenue on Wednesday, filled with anger towards Lowell Derek Harris, the man suspected of killing her and wanted by police for aggravated murder.

"The hole that you put in my family could never be filled,” said Shatara Welch, Watkins' niece.

Welch said the pain of the last 24 hour has been indescribable.

“Not only is she a mother of seven, she has a slew of nieces and nephews. There's 22 of us that she raised,” Welch said.

Welch said Watkins worked with her nephew and youngest son, who has down syndrome. When her son showed up to work without her, the family grew worried. When they did a welfare check, family members found Watkins' body in her bedroom. Police said she had a gunshot wound to the neck.

According to Welch, Watkins' suspected killer was an old friend. She said the pair rekindled their relationship about a year and half ago, around the time she said her aunt became distant.

“He did keep her away from her family. He made her put her kids out of her house so he can take over the way he did,” Welch said.

Harris was mentally abusive and took advantage of Watkins' giving nature, according to Welch.

“Whatever harm, whatever verbal abuse we were trying to pull her away and he knew that,” Welch said.

Harris also has a criminal past. In 1989, he was convicted of sexual battery. In 1990,he was found guilty of weapons charges.

“He knows what happened to my aunt. He hurt her. He is the reason why my family is going through so much pain,” said Welch.

If you have any information about Harris' whereabouts, call Cleveland Police.