‘I wish I knew’ — Stabbing victim’s friends discuss importance of reporting domestic violence

Posted at 10:02 PM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-12 16:45:47-04

HOLLAND, Mich. -- Police are releasing more information about a fatal stabbing that happened in Holland on Monday afternoon. Officials say 37-year-old Crystal Latham was found stabbed to death inside an apartment on 14th Street.

Police say her boyfriend, Keith Williams, is a suspect in the case and was arrested five hours after the homicide.

Latham and Williams have a long criminal history. Police say they responded to calls of domestic violence with the couple in the past. Latham's friends say she was trying to turn her life around and take care of her three children, but unfortunately it was too late.

"When I heard what happened my heart fell to the floor," said Sonia Castaneda, a friend of Latham. "I thought it couldn't be true. It's horrible."

Castaneda first met Latham through their struggles with addiction and on their journey to recovery.

"She definitely marched to the beat of her own drum that's for sure," said Castaneda. "She wasn't afraid to show it."

"I was shocked when I heard," said Julianna Miner, another friend of Latham. "I just saw her at the women's meeting last Wednesday. She seemed to be doing okay, but you can't really tell."

Miner also met Latham through Harbor House, a rehabilitation program in Holland. Miner says Latham was working towards recovery while trying to support and reconnect with her kids. Latham had an eight month old baby boy they say she had with Williams.

"He was a very possessive and jealous guy," said Castaneda.

Williams is considered a suspect in the case.

"I just got a bad vibe from him," said Miner. "He wasn't very friendly. He took a beautiful person away from us and her children."

Both friends say they wish they had done more. Both of them are survivors of domestic violence themselves.

"My daughter's father came very close to ending my life," said Castaneda. "That's where it kind of hit home because that could've been me. All we can do is try and make a difference."

"I wish I knew because I'm a survivor of domestic abuse," said Miner. "I think if I spent more time around them I would've seen the red flags."

"One of the things that perpetuates domestic violence is people turning their back on it and believing it's not their problem," said Tom Cottrell, the chief programming officer at the YWCA. "People think it's not their business to interfere and frankly, it's everyone's business. Anytime someone is hurt by violence it hurts all of us."

Cottrell says it's important to let victims of domestic violence know they have a way out and have unconditional support. He says it's also important to hold the offenders accountable.

"It's the silence of other men that oftentimes can contribute to domestic violence," said Cottrell. "The reality is men holding men accountable would go miles towards reducing domestic violence."

Williams is expected to be arraigned Wednesday morning.

October is domestic violence awareness month. If you or someone you know may be a victim, check out the links below:

Sexual Assault 24-hour Confidential Crisis Hotline

  • (616) 776-RAPE (7273)
  • 24 Hours / 7 Days per Week
  • Call to schedule an examination up to 96 hours post assault

Domestic Violence 24-hour Confidential Crisis Hotline:

  • (616) 451-2744
  • 24 Hours / 7 Days per Week

YWCA Counseling Center

  • (616) 459-4652
  • 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday - Thursday
  • 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Friday

Every Woman's Place

  • (231)-722-3333
  • 24 Hour Crisis Line
  • 1221 W. Laketon Ave., Muskegon, MI, 4944

Center for Women in Transition

  • 616-392-1970 (24-hour helpline, English)
  • 616-355-9755 (24-hour helpline, Spanish)
  • Offices open 9am-5pm for walk-in clients