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Demi Brae Cuccia lost her life due to teen dating violence.

Johna Roche, Assistant Editor in Chief

August 16, 2007

I sit in my living room watching Hannah Montana with my sister, as I hear my father rummaging around just up the stairs.  He walks into the room, my mother following his lead, and they join the two of us.

Watching TV together is always a way for us to spend some quality time together, but as I look over at my father, my mood changes from happy to confused.

He is upset, worrying about something. He looks as if he has just seen a ghost, the color draining from his face.

He begins speaking, his voice filled with devastation. Bad news, bad news, more bad news. There is no good from his words.

My father takes the TV remote and switches the channel over to the news. I do a double take. Police lights, officers walking around the crime scene, with the words “Monroeville Teen Murdered by Ex-Boyfriend” in bright white letters projected across the frame.

My mother begins crying. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. In my mind, I’m thinking How could anyone ever have the intent to hurt Demi?

At six years old, I don’t quite understand the concept of what was happening. Crime is not something I had gotten a grip on, I just knew it was bad. Now that someone I knew very well has been affected by it, I am finally able to understand.

I’ve known Demi for practically my whole life. Our fathers are good friends, and always will be. That friendship is being carried on through their children and is creating a stronger bond between our families. Losing Demi is physical, but the memories that we all have with her are still there. Not tangible, but it sure does feel like it.

August 20,2007

I never got a proper goodbye. My parents were not in favor of me attending the funeral service, with nearly 1,000 people in attendance. Being surrounded by that many people in a heart-wrenching atmosphere is overwhelming to a young child. It’s hard knowing that I am not going to get to see her face one last time. Demi’s pearly white smile that never left her face. Her long brunette hair. Her bright eyes that gleamed looking into the ones in front of her. Her energetic voice that cheered on the Gateway Gators under the Friday night lights.

That voice is one that will not be joining her fellow cheerleaders anymore.

Life seemed to blur. Experiencing the brutal loss of someone at the hands of an aggressive ex at such a young age is damaging to one’s mind. My parents became cautious of everything around them, questioning the “what ifs” of when my sister and myself were to grow older. I became cautious myself, however an elementary school student should not have to feel scared of her male peers.

Distraught is the only way to describe the healing minds during the aftermath. It’s quiet, almost eerie. It’s hard to sleep at first―nightmares about the situation. Some people move on, but no matter what, she isn’t gone. Her name and story live on forever.

Flashback to Summer of 2007

Demi is in a toxic relationship with her boyfriend, John Mullarkey. Mullarkey did not like the idea of Demi being away from him. He wants her to stop seeing her friends. He wants her to stop spending time with her family. He wants her to stop cheerleading. He wants her to stop―and the list goes on and on. He wants dominance. He wants control. He wants power.

Mullarkey is becoming obsessed with her and the idea of them being together.  

Demi wants to stop being controlled in their relationship. She breaks things off with Mullarkey. He hates that. The thought of losing Demi is the end of the world for him. He believes that if he can’t have her, no one can.

A barely sixteen-year-old Demi is tired of her phone constantly buzzing with texts from Mullarkey. She wants to spend her birthday (August 14, 2007) surrounded by the people she loves―her family and friends.

August 15, 2007

The texts continue on the next day, but never did Demi imagine what would be happening around six o’clock that evening when she finally breaks down and agrees to let him come over after constant badgering for two weeks.

Mullarkey visits Demi’s home. Talking turns into arguing. He reaches his limit. He makes one of the last decisions he will make on his own behalf. Remarkably the worst decision of his life.

“He stabbed me,” Demi is able to run out of her home, screaming, hoping somebody would hear.

“I hate you,” Demi says just before she collapsed and lost consciousness.

Demi is stabbed a total of sixteen times. After Mullarkey looks at the scene unfolding in front of his eyes, he sends a text message to his mother to tell her his next plan of action. Mullarkey tries to take his own life, but fails. Around 6:30, a neighbor walks outside to see the horrific event, and calls the police.

Demi tries to hold on, fighting for each breath, fighting to speak to the officers that arrive outside her home, fighting for her young life.

Mullarkey survives, he is the one who gets to see another day. Demi passes away at Forbes Regional Hospital around 7 o’clock, her family holding on to her lifeless body.

Demi Brae Cuccia is beautiful. Demi Brae Cuccia is smart. Demi Brae Cuccia is loving. Demi Brae Cuccia is inspiring. Demi Brae Cuccia’s story is not just a statistic. Demi Brae Cuccia’s story needs to be heard. Demi Brae Cuccia’s story needs to be understood, but not repeated.

February 19, 2019

Today, I still sit in my living room thinking of Demi. Her beautiful soul is on my mind everyday. She stays with me, and reminds me that I have to appreciate every moment with the ones I love. Advocating this topic and knowing the signs is so important, and I am honored to do it for Demi.