Spencer woman works to rebuild home after fire

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SPENCER – Once a week Sheena Hasty sits on her deck, sips coffee or tea and ponders life’s unexpected changes.
When she walks back into the four-bedroom home it brings her near tears. The home that she’s lived in since February 2009 was recently destroyed by fire. Seven months ago her estranged husband, Thomas Bernard Turner, 43, was charged with arson and assault with a deadly weapon following what investigators say began as a domestic dispute.
The case was transferred to Rowan Superior Court and is pending, court records said.
Hasty can’t part with her Steeplechase Trail home that is now a shell of its former glory. She lost everything in the March fire. What wasn’t damaged by fire and water, vandals took.
Hasty’s daughter, Shirlise Walker, 24, has been working to help her mother try to rebuild her life and her home.
Walker quit her job and moved from Louisiana to be with her mother. She’s been sending letters to organizations she hopes will help them rebuild.
Hasty said she filed a claim with her insurance company but was denied. She said her estranged husband completed the insurance forms and was not truthful about any criminal conduct.
She doesn’t have the money to fight or appeal the claim.
Gunshots and fire
“I just feel like he just lost it,” Hasty said of Turner.
Hasty believes Turner used a ladder to gain access into the home and climbed through an upstairs window.
Hasty’s son, Joseph, and a friend were at the home at the time of the incident. Joseph told investigators Turner began firing random shots into various appliances and throughout the home.
Joseph and his friend retreated to a bathroom near the garage entrance. Turner walked by the bathroom, pointed the gun at them, and fired into a wall near the bathroom door, a court affidavit said.
Hasty and Turner had begun divorce proceedings in September 2011 after their marriage turned violent.
Despite a tumultuous marriage, Hasty allowed Turner to return to the home they once shared.
She’s unsure if he went to the home that day thinking she was there.
Turner changed the locks on the house the night before the fire and she had her son change them back that morning.
Hasty doesn’t know why the incident happened, but said it’s something Turner will have to “work out within himself.”
“It’s not for me to ponder and think,” she said.
Hasty has been asked why she let Turner return to the house.
“He was still my husband. I didn’t hate him. Never in a million years would I think he would have burned my house up and tried to kill my son and his friend,” she said.
Hasty said she finds it ironic October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and she is dealing with the aftermath of a domestic situation.
“People need to know this thing is real. It happens every day,” she said.
Back to the beginning
The family has come full circle in a sense. When Hasty, her daughter and four sons, Joseph, Brandon, Russell and Christian, moved to Salisbury several years ago, they lived in a tiny room of a house Hasty’s brother owned.
The family, with the exception of Brandon and Russell, are temporarily living in a small two-bedroom home.
Hasty called her daughter to tell her about the fire the day it happened.
“I was kind of in shock, in disbelief. I Googled it and there it was. I wanted to come home that day,” Shirlise said.
Walker had just left Salisbury in January and moved to Louisiana.
Hasty had spent the July 4th holiday with Walker in Louisiana. When Hasty packed up to return to Rowan County so did Walker and fiance, John.
Walker took leave from work, packed her bags, left some furniture with friends and moved to Rowan County.
A solution
Walker said she felt guilty about not being there for her mother.
“I said to my fiance that if I was there, it wouldn’t have happened. I have my what ifs,” she said.
It tore at Walker because her mother’s dream went up in flames.
“Growing up my mom talked about having a place to call home, not just having a house,” Walker said.
The children were proud when their mother bought the house.
“She loved her house. She adored it. She said, ‘This is where I want to grow old,’ ” Walker said of her mother.
Walker just wants to see her mother smile again. She came up with what she hopes will get her back the home she adored.
“I said, ‘Mom, we can make this happen. We just have to reach out and ask for help,’ ” Walker said.
Hasty’s home is in consideration for a rebuild through a Yadkinville disaster relief organization supported by North Carolina Quakers.
The organization, similar to Habitat for Humanity, requires its recipients help in the rebuilding.
The difference is Hasty must first clean the property and purchase the supplies.
The family is looking for help in purchasing supplies and volunteers to help build.
“I think with everybody helping, all of us having our hands in it, it would mean so much more – it would really be home,” Hasty said.
Walker created a page on Facebook called “Rebuilding Hope, Joy and Peace” designed to tell her mother’s story and ask for help.
The family hopes through this page they’ll be able to get the help they need and get help for others.
The future
Hasty is certain her future includes being back in her home and paying it forward to someone else in need.
Hasty looks back at where she started in life and where she is now.
Despite her current circumstances she was able to graduate from Livingstone College and obtain a master’s degree.
She is a supervisor for therapeutic foster care at Turning Point Family Services.
She accomplished those goals through the support of her children and is determined to rebuild her life with their support.
Hasty said she has received virtually no support from friends.
Her co-workers and her family have been her support, she said.
“It’s amazing how many friends you have before something devastating and how many friends you have after, which amounts to none,” Hasty said.
For more information about “Rebuilding Hope, Joy and Peace” search Facebook or email rebuildinghopejoyandpeace@yahoo.com.