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Mending Shattered Childhoods

The couple's relationship was rocky through much of her pregnancy. Adams "didn't want to just be Number 1 but the only one," her mother said. For a time, they barely talked. Carruth changed his phone number, then took Adams to task for not calling, her mother said. "He kept making and breaking dates," she said. "He was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

At some point, Cherica Adams made it clear she would be seeking child support from Carruth. The prosecutor argued that Carruth was deeply opposed to supporting the child of a woman he was no longer with.


Chancellor Adams was born 10 weeks premature after an emergency C-section and was left with cerebral palsy. He uses his walker so well that he can dash across the playground. (Photos Juana Arias -- The Washington Post)


_____About This Series_____

The Toll: Researchers are just beginning to discover what has been a hidden risk of pregnancy: Pregnant women and new mothers are more likely to be victims of homicide than to die of any single natural cause, several statewide studies have shown.

The Victims: As public health experts focus new attention on homicide during pregnancy, the Washington region has become a focal point. Research rarely casts light on the lives of those who were slain or how violence entered their lives at such a pivotal time.

The Legacy: The tragedy of maternal homicide lingers in the lives of children left behind, some of them born as their mothers were dying. Older siblings sometimes witnessed the violence. The children often must be raised by their grandparents.

_____Multimedia_____
Video: Recovering at Ceeatta's House
Photo Gallery: The Missing Stories
Photo Gallery: Caring for a Lost Daughter's Son
_____Charts_____
Maternal Homicide in D.C. Area
_____From The Post_____
Bittersweet Childhoods of Love and Loss (The Washington Post, Dec 21, 2004)
Violence Intersects Lives of Promise (The Washington Post, Dec 20, 2004)
States Add Penalties For Death of Unborn (The Washington Post, Dec 20, 2004)
Many New or Expectant Mothers Die Violent Deaths (The Washington Post, Dec 19, 2004)
Researchers Stunned By Scope of Slayings (The Washington Post, Dec 19, 2004)
How the Series Was Reported (The Washington Post, Dec 19, 2004)
_____For Information or Help_____
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE
D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 202-299-1181
Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, 301-352-4574
Virginians Against Domestic Violence, 804-377-0335

In mid-November 1999, Carruth called Adams to say he wanted to make things right, her mother said. He led her to believe that they were going to be a family. He went to a Lamaze class. "He could've changed," Adams told her mother hopefully.

"She wanted so much to be a couple, and I think it was because I was a single parent," Saundra Adams said. "She really wanted to be married and be a family."

On a Monday in November, Carruth called and asked Cherica for a "real date" to a movie -- "The Bone Collector."

After the movie, Carruth and Adams were in separate cars, heading back toward Adams's apartment. According to prosecutors, Carruth led her down a dark road, where he slowed or stopped his SUV. With Adams blocked in, a car with three men pulled alongside her BMW 325 and fired through her window.

Shot four times and bleeding, Adams called 911 on her cell phone. "I've been shot," she said.

"You've been shot?" a 911 operator asked.

". . . I'm eight months pregnant," she said.

". . . How'd this happen?" a 911 medic inquired.

"I was following my baby's daddy, Rae Carruth, the football player."

"So you think he did it?" the medic asked.

"He slowed down and a car pulled up beside me."

"And then shot at you?" the medic asked.

"Yes."


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