The New York District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that Barry Wells, 29, had been indicted in the strangulation death of his 22-year-old wife Tonie Wells.
Wells is charged with second-degree murder, aggravated criminal contempt, first-degree criminal contempt and aggravated family offense, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said.
“I killed my girl,” he told cops following his arrest in Westchester County, paperwork says.
The victim’s family was in court Thursday to face her alleged killer.
“When I saw him in court earlier, I didn’t feel no anger towards him. All I felt was “why?” Why my daughter? All I saw when I looked at him was sadness. I couldn’t even be mad at this man,” said the victim’s mother, Elizabeth Rivera, in a radio interview following the court hearing. “I lashed out at my own family. My sister was like “F***u” and my ex husband was like “F***u.” I opened up them doors and I let my family have it because poison and poison don’t mix.”
Court documents obtained by the Daily News alleges the fight broke out about her staying in a shelter and his cheating. In a pair of interviews, Wells said that he started seeing other women because his wife had an order of protection against him.
“She was in a domestic violence shelter that night and we don’t understand how she got back to his house, this is what’s inconclusive about the whole case,” said Rivera on the iaxisradio.com podcast. “This man was already cheating with someone else on his job. A 17-year-old little girl and the little girl had contacted my daughter like “your husband choked me out too,” and supposedly he smothered the lil girl. He was like “if this gets back to my wife I’m going to kill you.” The lil girl goes back and she gets her cousins to beat the s**t out of him, so not only did he lose my daughter he was losing his job. This was right before Christmas, the 23rd or 24th, so that’s why he did what he did. I guess he felt this is it, she’s not coming back.”
[TONIE’S COUSIN DETAILS DAYS LEADING UP TO DEATH IN YOUTUBE DOCUMENTARY]
Domestic Violence History
Sources told the New York Post that Wells and her husband had a history of domestic violence. Wells was arrested Sept. 21 on felony charges of strangulation in the second degree for attacking his wife in Manhattan at her mother’s home on July 20.
His bail was set at $5,000 at his Manhattan Criminal Court arraignment and a temporary order of protection was issued against him.
“I tried to help her, but Tonie was at the point where she was starting to hate me ’cause I was always on her. She got an order of protection, she dropped it within two months. He waited for her in my back hallway, choked her out, left her in the basement for dead. My super found her, like she was unconscious. Supposedly he was a black belt in juno,” said Rivera.
On the day of the murder, the New York Daily News reports that the pair began fighting at the entrance to the apartment at about 8 a.m.
“Tonie was swinging at him and he grabbed her and brought her inside the apartment. Then he grabbed her by the neck and they ended up by the basement door,” said Rivera.
Wells told police his wife fell down the stairs and was gasping for air.
Even though he knows CPR, he didn’t perform it, court papers say. Instead, Wells checked her pulse and took off when he realized she was dead.
The New York Post reported that the young woman was pregnant at the time of the murder, but New York Daily News reports that the cousin of the victim informed them that Wells had suffered a miscarriage. The cousin said that Wells was eight months pregnant when she lost her baby after a domestic quarrel.
“She wasn’t pregnant. She already had two miscarriages. She had a miscarriage in August and he got her pregnant in September. By November, she had another miscarriage. I don’t want to get too personal about it, but he’s an animal,” said Rivera.
Mishandling of 9-1-1 call
According to the New York Post, the officers Wing Hong Lau and Wael Jaber had been assigned to touch base with the victim, who called the police and told them that she was scared of her husband.
Originally it was reported that her sister called but Rivera confirmed that Tonie was in fact the caller.
Dispatched officers drove to Wells’ home in Crown Heights, but never got out of their car to actually check on her welfare, law enforcement sources said.
“This defendant allegedly killed the woman he purportedly loved,” District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told PIX11. “It is critical that we do all we can to combat domestic violence which in this instance escalated, led to a senseless death and left this young mother’s family and friends to struggle with such a tragic loss.”
The cops have been suspended and Rivera has began a wrongful death lawsuit.
“When he choked out my daughter 6 months ago the District attorney bailed him out on $5,000 bond. Now the DA called me and told me sorry, the cops didn’t get out their car cause it was too cold,” said Rivera. “He murdered my daughter and left my granddaughter on top of my daughter and my granddaughter is 22 months now. She’s not even 2-years-old and she told me specific in the precinct, “momma, daddy put mommy to sleep” and she imitate it! When I go to sleep she holds my eye up and says “momma don’t go to sleep” that breaks me! All because some cops were cold.”
Social Media Celebrities
In September, 2017, the couple went viral after Wells tattooed his wife’s face on his back to mark their wedding anniversary.
The story was picked up by the gossip blog, Shade Room and the two quickly became the hashtag #RELATIONSHIPGOALS. Wells frequently posted about her relationship on social media, which led everyone to believe the two were in marital bliss.
But the victim’s mother says the young couple’s relationship was not what it seemed to be.
“Unfortunately she met someone on social media and he was a stalker. He’s been watching her since she was 17. She finally met up with him, she just had Charlie, who was like 4 or 5 months. Within a month or so they were already living together. Within a month in a half he spit in her face. She said “no mom I’m not going back with him,” said Rivera. “A week later she moved in with him. She didn’t even wait. That same week he threw her outside naked. After they made love she got on her phone she calls me back, “she’s like mom this man two in the morning through me outside naked for like 15 minutes.” The neighbors up stairs, the same neighbor that found her body was like “Barry don’t do that.” I guess it was like a pattern that he already had. Within two months she got married behind my back didn’t tell me nothing I found out through social media, Facebook.
The family of Tonie has been working to get a law passed in her name to bring harsher charges against repeat domestic violence offenders.
“Jan. 5 is officially Tonie Nicole Lopez Day by Staten Island, New York, said rivera. “I want to get her a billboard in Time Square using her face and 800 number to get the Tonie Law. We’re trying to get a spot to hosts meetings once a month to tell women how to get out. If you really want out! There’s a domestic violence bureau in every city, they will give you shelter and can even relocate you to another State. 1800-799-Safe.
Click the link below to hear the full interview with Elizabeth Rivera.
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Warning contains graphic language