Murder victim's sister: 'If I could have taken her place' - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Murder victim's sister: 'If I could have taken her place'


One year ago, 30-year old Hope Melton was brutally murdered. After leading investigators to Hope's body, officers arrested and charged 24-year-old Nickolas Miller in the crime.

"She didn't know," said Chanda Garces, Hope's sister. "She did not know that would be her last day."

The day after Christmas last year, Hope was on her way to visit her grandmother when investigators say she was followed from a gas station, run off the road, tortured and killed by Miller.

"I'm taking it day by day," said Garces. "I'm trying to remember the happy times that we've had together instead of the bad."

Garces is Hope's only sibling, and has fond memories of them growing up. The last time the two sisters spoke was the day before Hope's death.

"We were talking, and she was talking about starting a family, and she wanted to have a little girl," added Garces.

Garces says it's hard to imagine life or any holiday without Hope.

"It was empty. It was empty," said Garces. "It wasn't Christmas at all. It will never be the same. You just have to deal with it but it'll never be the same."

The store's surveillance camera captured Hope smiling for the last time.

"If I could see her and turn back time I would say I love her and if I could have taken her place," said Garces. "If I could give her life back I would. That's how much I love her."

For Garces it's about justice and forgiveness. She says there is no punishment worthy of taking her sister's life, and one year later, Garces is still finding a way to cope.

"I have to deal with it in my own way but I have to be strong too for her and I don't want her life to be in vain," Garces added. "I want to help others through this."

She wants Hope's life to be lesson to other women because she doesn't want any other family to experience this kind of pain.

"She was a wonderful person and she loved the Lord and she was a great wife, a great sister," said Garces. "A great daughter and she was loved by everyone."

South Carolina ranks second worst in the nation in the rate of women killed by men.

In April, Hope Melton's family and friends will be holding a walk to honor her memory and spread awareness about violence against women.

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