“Kelly Hunnewell was determined to build a good life for her kids. The 33-year-old Columbia woman, shot to death as she worked alone in a hot bakery, returned to her native South Carolina in late 2010 after separating from her husband, rented a little house in Eau Claire and worked in the pre-dawn hours in hopes of moving up in the business.”
— The State, July 13, 2013
The above is from a fine story by Dawn Hinshaw and Carolyn Click headlined “Kelly Hunnewell: A Life Cut Short.” Other excerpts from the article are highlighted throughout this column.
A year has passed since the July 1 murder of Kelly Hunnewell. The horrendous crime prompted public outrage, political rhetoric — and not much else.
Because her killers were out on bond for other violent crimes when they took her life for nothing (literally, as there was no money to steal at the bakery facility), elected officials offered bold statements and promises of reform.
Mayor Steve Benjamin appointed a high-profile bond reform panel. Richland Reps. Kirkman Finlay and Leon Howard held a news conference calling for changes in state bond law. Attorney General Alan Wilson asked for funding for extra prosecutors in bond court.
“Hunnewell and her four children, ranging in age from 13 to 6, were well known along their street. … [Neighbor] Shontell Green, said Hunnewell was driven to provide for her children. ‘She was the only white lady on this block, and she let those kids mingle and play. Those kids loved everybody on this block,’ Green said.”
The community reacted as well, with a march held Aug. 17 from the Carolina Bakery to the State House. Marchers remembered Hunnewell, wore T-shirts bearing a picture of her along with the words “Where’s the Justice? No Bonds for Criminal Violence” and demanded change.
“[Green] described a creative mom who made bracelets with her teenager and an animal lover who allowed the kids to take in stray kittens. … She described her as quiet and reserved, and said she almost certainly fought off her killers out of a love for her kids.”
What were the results of all the public outcry and political initiatives? Almost nothing. The bond reform panel offered its report, Finlay and Howard offered their legislation and Wilson offered his funding request. And that was pretty much that. Or as Wilson told The State this week, “it was never cleared by the Legislature.”
Of course, they were awfully busy at the State House this year, what with that crisis over getting somebody — anybody — to serve as lieutenant governor for a few months while they’re not even in session.
“Police say two men pushed their way through a propped door where Hunnewell was working at 3 a.m. … Two 18-year-olds with long criminal records are in custody, along with a juvenile. ‘They took that lady’s life for nothing,’ Green said. ‘They took her from four beautiful children who were just waiting for their mother to come home.’”
Hunnewell’s former employers at Carolina Café marked the one-year anniversary of her death this week by announcing they had named the kitchen at their new location in her honor. Co-owner Lauren Schlueter told The State of Hunnewell, “She was someone that … pulled herself up by her bootstraps and had the most incredible work ethic. She was kind, happy and always a positive and a loving mother.”
A plaque proclaiming “Kelly’s Kitchen” now hangs in the new Carolina Café location. It’s a simple but sweet tribute. But it is far from what Kelly Hunnewell deserves.
Separate from justice for her alleged killers, she deserves action from the Legislature that will prevent violent criminals from making bail and performing further violent acts while out on bond. It would be good public policy. It would also be a fitting tribute.
Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics.
A Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Carnival
From 6-11 PM on December 31st on Main Street, enjoy rides, games, karaoke, food, drinks and more! More information here.
Hickory Tavern Is Now Open!
Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@TheHickoryTav), Instagram (@HickoryTavern), and visit our website for more info. 907 Senate Street in the Vista!
Ice Skate on Main Street
Columbia’s famously hot skating rink is now open! Additional information and discounts can be found here.
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage offers 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Great Gifts for the Whole Family
Don’t miss Half Moon Outfitters’ holiday sale! Up to 30% off Prana, Patagonia, The North Face, and other great brands. Location and hours here.
New Year’s Eve at Social
Don’t miss this Black and White Affair featuring Kap Slap. Tickets available online!
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season:
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
F/T and P/T avail. Must have a clean driving record, organized and have a prof appearance. Please call for an interview or email resume to Kerry@crystalpool.com. Must bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Call 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
The Lake Carolina new home community has it all! 1 YMCA, 3 pools, 10 parks, 20+ community events each year, and much more! Learn more. www.lakecarolina.com