Lisa Vilate Williams was decorating a Christmas tree with her boyfriend’s 3-year-old twins when the man’s ex-wife allegedly shot her in the chest, killing her in front of the young girls, police say.
The murder took place in Salt Lake City this week, with police saying 32-year-old high school teacher Chelsea Waltrous Cook went to the home of her ex-husband to bring cold medicine to one of the children. As the Mercury News reported, Williams was inside the home decorating the tree with ornaments she had just made with the children when Cook arrived, and a confrontation ensued.
Though what happened next was not exactly clear, a police report claimed that Cook locked herself in a bathroom and called 911, refusing to leave. When she left the bathroom, she pulled a gun from her coat pocket and shot Williams to death, the report noted. By that point, Cook’s ex-husband and the father to the twins returned home and restrained Cook until police arrived.
Williams, who was one of 26 siblings from a Mormon fundamentalist part of Arizona, had moved to Utah to care for her sister, the Mercury News report noted. Family members said they had grown worried for her safety after Cook embarked on a campaign of online bullying and physical harassment for months leading up to the shooting, U.S. News and World Report noted.
It was not clear what prompted the harassment, but family members became worried for her safety.
“I worried for her safety every day,” said her mother, Tawny Williams.
She and Travis Cook had been dating for close to six months after meeting at a bank where they both worked. Family members said she cared deeply for Cook’s young girls, and at the time of her death was trying to give them a memorable Christmas experience by making ornaments that they would put on the tree together.
Chelsea Cook, a 32-year-old Utah high school health teacher, is accused of fatally shooting her ex-husband's girlfriend, Lisa Williams in front of their 3-year-old twin children: https://t.co/ytq3EndlJ7 pic.twitter.com/9o72mCMWrS— Tom Cleary (@tomwcleary) November 26, 2018
Family members said Lisa Williams even left her own family’s Thanksgiving celebrations early so she could return to see the twins.
“I spoke to her an hour or so before it all happened, and she was so excited… to give those kids something happy,” Bekah Williams said.
Police have not released any further details about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, including whether there was any kind of confrontation before Cook allegedly fired the fatal shots.
Chelsea Cook is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail on murder charges. A bond has been set at $1 million.