Police and prosecutors have charged a 29-year-old man with murder after finding a Williston woman beaten to death last weekend.
KX News spoke to the victim’s family who says they’re speaking up about what happened, hoping that her story will help someone else.
Erica’s brother, Earl Johnson explained, “Erica was the type of girl, I don’t care how bad your day’s going or how bad you think your day’s going when you get around her everything changed.”
Johnson is talking about his sister, 34-year-old Erica Herrera.
“Her smile alone would put a smile on your face,” he said.
Johnson moved to North Dakota wanting to start a better life, inviting his sister to do the same.
Eventually Herrera did, moving to Williston as well.
“What better place to change your life? You know, you have so much opportunity out here,” Johnson said.
But according to an affidavit of probable cause, in the early hours of Sept. 19, Williston Police got a call about an unresponsive woman.
Johnson says he believes her death was caused by domestic violence.
“I sat out there for a few hours and my kids went up to the neighbors’ house and we were all down at the steps talking and they were explaining to me the history of what was going on and how my sister begged them not to tell me out of fear of how I would react or respond,” he said.
According to TheHotline.Org, on average 24 people per minute are a victim of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate person in the United States.
But it’s organizations like the Family Crisis Shelter in Williston that are working hard to raise awareness and lower those numbers.
The shelter is a 24-hour service offering women of any age shelter, transportation and counseling.
One coordinator says it’s all about speaking out.
“I have so many people tell me, ‘I feel so alone, nobody understands and I’m embarrassed to share this with my friends,’ but it is important to reach out because we have to realize that those people around us that love us and care, they’re not going to look at that as a burden,” Mckenzie County Family Crisis Shelter Coordinator Jennifer Winter said.
But Johnson says he wished he had known sooner about his sister’s situation.
“It’s like now everybody’s telling me, but it’s too late,” Johnson said. “By you being quiet, you’re not just being hurt, outcomes like this you hurt everybody.”
It’s pain that Johnson says he wishes no one would go through.
Johnson has started a GoFundMe in hopes to get Herrera back to New Jersey to hold a burial ceremony.
You can donate by clicking here.