As the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office searched for the identity of the female victim whose body was discovered off of Black Champ Road on July 23, several people came forward saying it was Waxahachie resident, Kitonya Wallace.
However, when the sheriff’s office checked out this information, the investigators learned it was not her, said Lt. Rick White with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.
“We had at least 10 people share that information with us,” White said. “But we talked with Kitonya’s brother, and he confirmed it was not her because he knew exactly where she was,” White said.
“But when you get that many people who share that kind of lead, you have to check it out.”
White added that the victim turned out to be Sonya Ballinger, 19, from Irving, Texas. This tip came from the Irving Police Department after a sketch of the victim was released to other law agencies.
A suspect, Thaddeus Terrence Quinn, was arrested and charged with murder on Aug. 3.
At age 46, Wallace has discovered life is a gift. This nearly five and half feet tall woman, who is slight of build with a shining smile, hasn’t always felt that way.
“When I finally understood that people thought that sketch was me, I realized that I’m so blessed and lucky to be alive,” Wallace said. “I immediately started thanking God, and I especially did so when they told me that my brother was thankful that I was alive as well. I also started offering prayers up for the woman in that drawing, because I knew that was someone’s daughter or mother.”
Wallace added that when addiction became part of her life, her family had no idea where she was as the years passed. When her brother, Andrew, got the call from the sheriff’s office recently, it was a miracle that he could say times had changed.
“He was able to tell them that I was living in a ministry program that helps women who are dealing with issues like drug abuse or other addictions,” Wallace said. “The program is called International Breaking the Chains Ministries, and its doors opened on Jan. 1.”
She went on to explain that she became a resident there on Jan. 3. At that time in her life she felt like there was no hope left, and she was sick of being tired.
“This is an amazing second chance for me,” Wallace said. “They help you build communication skills, and they’ve helped me look inside myself and learn to love me. Before I got there I was living in a house with no lights, no water or electricity. My life has changed so much now.”
Instead of worrying about what kind of warrants she has with the police, she can now focus on learning life skills that will help her achieve dreams she pushed aside.
“I’ve never been able to succeed at anything,” Wallace said. “I started drinking when I was in high school, and then it evolved into using crack cocaine. Now I see how I’ve stuffed so much of that down, and this program is showing me how to clear that out by having a relationship with God that has no limits. I don’t want to tell people I’ve changed. I want them to see it for themselves. I plan to go to college next spring, so life is good.
And, Andrew is one of those who have certainly seen this transformation.
“It’s great to see her grow like this,” Andrew said. “We were able to see her around Mother’s Day, and I could see the improvement. I hope she continues because I want her to have the life she chooses.”
He added that getting the call from the sheriff’s office was a jolt.
“Thank goodness I knew where she was,” Andrew said. “If it had been two or three years ago, I would have said ‘yes’ that really could be her. And, on the other side of this I feel for the family that got the bad news the other day. That’s a tough way to find things out.”
Wallace’s son, Khornelius, was also saddened by the realization that another family experienced this sort of loss.
“It was scary, and I felt bad for that young woman’s family,” Khornelius said. “I don’t know how that feels. I’ve lost loved ones before but not like that. And, that makes having my mother even more special, because she’s doing so good. I have a 2-year-old son, and she told me she wants to be in his life, and I can see her doing it. I’ve seen her in her worst times, and I’m proud to see her living like she is right now.”
The mission of International Breaking the Chains Ministries is to help women and families with life controlling issues like substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness. Kristi and Jerry Slate are the founders of this residential program that is for women only.
“We felt called by God to do this, and we’ve had this dream for 15 years,” Slate said. “We provide mentoring, counseling and classes that will help these women make their way in the world. Kitonya is doing a phenomenal job, and it’s exciting to see her growing and setting goals for herself. Instead of being ordered by the courts, she made the choice to come here. It’s all about choices.”
She also added that her heart goes out to the family of Ballinger.
“It’s so said to think they lost her,” Slate said. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through. I do have to say though that I’m grateful it wasn’t Kitonya, because she was one choice away from being lost to all of us.”
If you would like more information on this ministry, call 214-690-4556. There is an application, background check and interview process that is included when applying for residency. The house holds 10 residents, and the location is kept secret so the women feel safe in their surroundings.
Follow Colleen on Twitter at firstname.lastname@example.org, which is also her email. Also check out www.facebook.com/colleenhorningwdl or contact her at 469-517-1452.