By Kim West
Lydell Newsome has mixed emotions when he recalls fellow Athens resident Sharon Wellington, a happy-go-lucky member of his church who was stabbed multiple times and found dead at her East Elm Street apartment Friday evening.
“She had a smile on her face all the time,” said Newsome, an evangelizer at Southside Church of Christ in Rogersville, where Wellington regularly attended Wednesday and Sunday services. “Just thinking about Athens, it’s sad to know that kind of thing happened. It’s sad knowing it happened to Sharon, and knowing it happened so close to home.”
Newsome said Wellington’s church family will hold a memorial service 2 p.m. Sunday at Central Church of Christ to honor her memory and aid in the grieving process.
“We’re going to do some singing, let some people do reflections and try to remember the good things about her,” he said. “We want to give the area a little closure on this. Those that know her and want to say something, that would be perfectly fine.”
The 32-year-old Wellington attended church in Rogersville despite the distance because she connected with the youthful congregation, Newsome said.
“It’s a small, loving church, and we average 140 to 150 people on Sundays,” he said. “She really enjoyed helping out with the early Sunday morning breakfast, and she was always trying to lend a hand whenever she could.
“Our church has a lot of young people — she loved the camaraderie of the (congregation). She loved the kids, and they loved her, too,” said Newsome, who last saw Wellington at a special holiday service held the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving. He was in Nashville for a Christian music awards ceremony during the Thanksgiving holiday and was out of town for the Nov. 25 service, which was the last time Wellington attended Southside.
Wellington, who did not own a car, was a regular attendee because she rode with other church members who live in Athens. Her friends were alarmed when they didn’t see her at the Wednesday service prior to her body being discovered Nov. 30.
Athens Police believes Wellington knew her attacker and has “a person of interest” in the ongoing homicide investigation. An arrest had not been made as of Wednesday press time.
Police have not released an estimated time of death, details about the crime scene or the specific location of Wellington’s stab wounds. She was stabbed multiple times in her upper body, according to a preliminary autopsy released Tuesday.
Wellington’s body was released by the Alabama Department of Forensic Science Lab in Huntsville and was expected to arrive in her native South Carolina last night, according to Hilton’s Mortuary Inc. of Charleston, S.C.
Her funeral service is 11 a.m. Saturday at Azalea Church of Christ in North Charleston.
Newsome cited Wellington’s devoutness as a source of comfort, along with a pair of his favorite biblical passages.
“Anytime someone is close to the Lord, it’s reassuring,” said Newsome, who paraphrased John 3:16 and Philippians 4:13. “You don’t want something to happen, but it gives you a sense of comfort.
“The first (passage) tells us that God so loved us he gave us His son, and the second one says through Him we can do all things.”