WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- She filed for a restraining order on Monday. By Tuesday, she was dead. The father of Alecia Wheeler's four children is in jail, charged with her killing her in front of the kids.
Delia Gonçalves took an inside look at the cycle of domestic violence and a system that tries, but simply cannot protect against a killer.
"I had written a paper in my creative writing class and titled it 'I didn't know blood could fly,'" shared William Kellibrew.
Kellibrew wrote that school paper when he was 10 years old, just after he witnessed his mother's boyfriend brutally murder her and his older brother on July 2, 1984.
"I know how difficult it was for a 10-year-old kid who just watched his family murdered to go to school and have to focus on reading and math," he shared, "we could not talk about it. There was no picture up."
Now, almost three decades after his mother's killing, another woman -- Alecia Wheeler -- is stabbed to death in front of her young children just one day after filing a restraining order where she complained the kids' father threatened her with a knife.
"It really breaks my heart that here we are again," said Kellibrew.
Outside the Northeast rec center where Wheeler was murdered picking up her children, community leaders and advocates gathered for a call to action.
"We hope we can do a better job to make sure this doesn't happen again," said a police officer who attended.
Karma Cottman of the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence told 9 News, "We are at number 11 for domestic violence related murders for the city."
9 News obtained court documents that show this was the second temporary restraining order Wheeler filed against her alleged killer Claude Kinney, a man with a lengthy criminal record including drug, assault, and burglarly charges. But advocates say the courts can't do it alone: saving a family in crisis is up to all of us.
"We have to work as community to get it done," said Cottman.
Unfortunately, Wheeler never had an attorney so the judge did not find enough evidence to grant her a permanent restraining order in August. She even tried to file in Maryland but was denied. 9 News has also learned her alleged killer was served the restraining order and police escorted him to her house to retrieve his belongings just 45 minutes before Wheeler was murdered. They were both scheduled to go to trial later this month.
The children -- ages 1, 3, 5 and 9 -- are in protective custody.