“Do you know how good Momma can color?” Courtney Agnew asked her dad, Paul.
Paul Agnew said yes, assuring his 6-year-old that he had noticed her mother’s talents.
“It’s OK, Daddy,” she said. “Maybe Momma can show you how to color.”
Paul’s voice cracked as he shared this story with the Messenger Tuesday morning. The father/daughter exchange occurred before little Courtney knew of her mother’s death.
Samantha McNorton, 28, was found dead Sunday.
David Malone, 29, a man she met a few months ago, is charged with her murder.
Agnew said he and McNorton had been together 12 years before separating about 11 months ago. The common-law husband and wife had three children, Courtney, 6, Katlynn, 4 and Alan, 2.
He said she and Malone had been together for about four months.
“I don’t really want to talk … about it,” Agnew said. “But I owe it to her.
“The truth wasn’t that she loved David Malone, and she couldn’t stay away. She needed help, and she couldn’t get it.”
Agnew said his wife was fun, loving and caring.
“She was always taking care of everyone else,” he said. “When my grandmother passed away, Sam was running around taking care of everyone.”
But no one was more important to her than her children, Agnew said.
“No man, nobody …” he said. “You couldn’t find a hole in her attention to detail on the children. If they were just going down the road, she had them looking beautiful and spotless.”
He said she threw huge birthday parties for their children and always participated in the fun.
“That’s how she showed the children to be,” he said. “She was fun to be around.”
Even though they had been separated for almost a year, Agnew said they talked almost daily.
“Every time she was in trouble, I picked her up,” he said. “She wasn’t a drug user. She didn’t drink. She didn’t do none of that. I don’t know how she got mixed up with him.”
McNorton had custody of their children, but Agnew said as her situation with Malone grew more intense, she sent them to live with him.
“But it drove her crazy,” he said. “She called every 10 minutes and had me send her pictures. She would sing to them on the phone. I have video of her reading to them on her last visit.”
Agnew said Malone had beaten McNorton before, but after a sexual assault in late October, McNorton said she didn’t want to go back to him.
“She said, ‘I know if I go back, he’ll kill me,'” Agnew recalled.
At one point, Agnew said McNorton texted him the following: “I love you with all my heart, and I just can’t come home. Things are too complicated right now, but I promise you we will have our chance.”
He said the only reason McNorton went back to Malone the final time was because he threatened to kill him and their children if she didn’t.
He said he knew many people would wonder why she didn’t call the police after Malone threatened his life and the lives of their children.
“But if I had a penny for every time we called the cops on him,” Agnew said, “We’d be rich, and she’d be alive.”
He said the last time he heard from McNorton was the night of Nov. 5 – the night it’s believed she was murdered. They had been arguing because she hadn’t been to see the kids in awhile, but now he understands why.
“She said she’d be there in the morning to see the kids,” he said of her last text. When she never showed, he knew something was terribly wrong.
McNorton’s favorite color was pink, and Agnew plans to wear that color until Malone is held accountable.
“I’m not going to quit until he gets in trouble for what he did,” he said.
“The main thing … first and foremost …” he said, “She was a mother that loved her kids, and she was coming to see them when [he took her life.]”
An account for the children of Samantha McNorton has been opened at Legend Bank, and a separate account has been opened at Wells Fargo to help with funeral expenses. Donations can be made at any of their locations.
Memorial service for McNorton is 11:30 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Alvord.
SUSPECT HAS A RECORD OF ABUSE
Civil cases on file at the district clerk’s office in Decatur paint a picture of a violent past.
In September of 2006, David Malone’s wife, Windy, filed a protective order against her husband. In the supporting affidavit, she gives evidence of the abuse.
She states that in November of 2004, he pulled her out of a truck, threw her in a ditch and made her eat grass, kicked her in her stomach, picked her up by her hair and threw her against the pickup, punched her in the face, threw her back down and kicked her four or five more times.
“Then he threw me in the truck and said he was going to kill me,” she states in the affidavit.
Ms. Malone said that she saw Christmas lights in the distance, so she jumped out of the moving truck and ran to find a house.
In September of 2006, she states that the two began arguing “over him wanting me with him,” she said. He hit her repeatedly in the head and began choking her. He threw her down and stomped her leg before leaving.
She wraps up her affidavit by describing what life is like with her husband and their three children.
“I believe family violence is likely to occur in the future because he is constantly looking for me and finding me,” she states. “He thinks I belong to him. Our children are not allowed to be around him because of the abuse. When I refuse to go with him he beats me. He threatens to kill me and burn my family’s house down. He sneaks through the window and lays in bed with me while I sleep.”
A suit was also filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services to remove the couple’s three children from the home due to evidence of abuse and neglect in March of 2007.
The caseworker outlines a pattern of abuse and violent behavior including an instance where Malone threw a liquor bottle and it shattered near one of his children, and the above-mentioned incident where Malone attacked his wife on the side of the road with the children present in the vehicle.
“It is believed Mr. Malone would be capable of killing Ms. Malone,” the caseworker writes in her report.
In April of 2007, Malone was indicted on four separate charges of assault causing bodily injury/family violence. The charges stemmed from four different occasions spanning from September of 2006 to April of 2007 where Malone physically abused his wife. Each charge was enhanced due to a January 2005 conviction on assault/family violence in Tarrant County.
In October of 2007, Malone pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.