Those who knew her called her Ms. Betty, and she made her mark in the heart of Moss Point’s River City through her efforts to help those in need.
As owner of Providence Homecare Services, friends and family say Betty-Lewis Vaughans earned the respect of others because of her kind heart and willingness to go the extra mile to help those who couldn’t afford to help themselves.
But police say one of the people she helped may be responsible for her death.
On Thursday, Vaughans was found dead in the driveway of her home on Belleview Avenue, just east of Griffin Street in the heart of Moss Point, a city in Jackson County just west of the Alabama state line.
Her alleged killer, Octavius Montego Black, 31, of Moss Point, was picked up in his native Prentiss, where authorities also seized Vaughans’ Cadillac Escalade that was stolen from her home the day she was found dead.
Her nephew, Gabriel Wells, said his aunt was killed by a man she had been helping for years because of his personal relationship with her adopted daughter, a child she first met as a court-appointed special advocate and a child she later adopted as her own.
“She was a wonderful person,” Wells said Monday. “She was true caretaker. She’d help anybody, patching them or whatever she could do to help them. That is why this is so hurtful to my family.”
For years, he said, his aunt had gone out of her way to help the man accused in her killing, paying for him and her adopted daughter to live in an apartment.
In addition, he said, she paid Black’s cellphone bill and paid him for doing odd jobs for her, such as cutting lawns or running errands.
“This is a man she was helping,” he said, “and this is what is done to her?”
Vaughans’ is believed to be have been killed some time before a relative discovered her body.
From what Wells has learned from authorities, he said, Black showed up at his aunt’s home to borrow money and to use her Cadillac.
“My aunt was taking a bath and getting ready for bed,” he said. “She even let him use her cellphone. This is what the police are telling us.”
He said Black apparently got enraged when Vaughan wouldn’t let him use the car.
Wells said he’s learned additional information about the crime, but the case remains under investigation.
After his arrest in Prentiss, Black was brought back to Moss Point. He faces a charge of capital murder, which involves a killing committed during the commission of another felony crime.
Black is being held at the Jackson County jail without bond.
If convicted, he could go to prison for up to life or face the death penalty.
Wells said he just wants people to focus on who is aunt was — a beautiful person who loved her family and gave all she had back to the community she cherished.
“It’s time to shine the light on her — not him,” Wells said. “She is one who deserves recognition.”
To report information on the crime, call Moss Point Police at call Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 877-787-5898.