Drug-crazed killer stabbed my mum and sister to death in front of me – and the guilt of not being able to save them haunts me everyday – The Sun
THREE-YEAR-OLD Nicholas Christopher trembled in fear as the man who had just murdered his mum and baby sister walked towards him with a knife.
The tot shrieked as the evil killer plunged a knife into his tiny stomach, cutting him from his belly button to his jaw.
Nicolas, his 28-year-old mum Charisse and baby sister Lacie had not lived in their new apartment in Tennessee for long when a crazed drug-addict knocked on the door and asked for a glass of water.
But when Charisse turned to go to the kitchen, the evil killer stormed in and stabbed her 80 times – before murdering her baby daughter and slashing her son down his torso.
Now 32 years after the crime, Nicholas, 35, has opened up for the first time about the effects of losing his mother and younger sister Lacie Jo, two, in Investigation Discovery’s the Impact of Murder.
“I still have scars,” he explains. “The main one starts at my sternum and goes down to my belly button. It’s a constant reminder someone tried to end me.”
'We thought we'd be safe there'
Charisse, one of eight siblings, moved in with her sister Angie and her kids when both their marriages ended suddenly.
“We thought it would be a good place for us to be,” recalls Angie. “We thought we were going to be safe there.”
Six months after moving in, Angie and her ex-husband decided to give things another try, and so left Charisse living alone.
She quickly made friends with neighbour Bobby Thomas and her boyfriend Pervis Payne.
'She screamed like she was struggling'
On the afternoon of 27 June, 1987, Charisse had taken her children for a nap after a morning playing outdoors in the garden.
Having fallen asleep to the sound of his mum pottering in the adjacent room, Nicholas remembers being woken by the slam of their front door.
“I heard our mother scream," he says. "It was gurgled like she was struggling which made me get up. I told Lacie to stay put and that I’d be right back.”
As the three-year-old came to the kitchen doorway, he was shadowed by the silhouette of a man. Nicholas adds: “I couldn’t make out his face, I could just see my mum being held by him and she wasn’t moving.”
As the commotion continued, a woman who lived downstairs became worried about the screaming and phoned the police.
The attacker continued his rampage, inflicting 80 stab wounds on Charisse. She also suffered 42 defensive wounds as she desperately tried to fight back.
"Then I felt my sister grab hold of my clothes," Nicholas remembers.
It was then the man noticed the children and turned around to attack them.
'She was lifeless when I reached for her'
“I felt a cold blade touch me,” Nicholas says “There was a wetness as if I’d just come out of the bath. In an instant, everything went black.”
“When I came to, I could see my mother's face – she was looking at me,” he says. “But her eyes were blank. I tried reaching for her. There was no life in her whatsoever.”
Within two minutes the police arrived.
As the first officer ran upstairs, he bumped into Pervis – Charisse’s neighbour – fleeing the scene, dripping with blood.
“He said Charisse had been assaulted by someone else and he had come to help,” says assistant prosecutor Phyllis Garner. “He threw his bag at the officer and took off running.”
As backup was called to try and track down Pervis, paramedics fought to save little Nicholas’ life. But for Charisse and Lacie, it was too late.
'He killed my mum'
In the early hours of the morning on 28 June, 1987, 19-year-old Pervis Payne was found hiding in the attic of an ex-girlfriend. He had been under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and had killed Charisse in an intoxicated rage.
“After he was admitted to her apartment [he committed] the most horrific criminal acts I have ever seen in 24 years as a prosecutor occurred," says Phyllis.
While Nicholas was too young to be used as a witness, it was clear they had caught the killer.
Angie explains: “I was looking after Nicholas when the news came on the TV. He saw Pervis and said, ‘He’s the man that killed my mum’.”
'Do you miss my Lacie?'
Seven months later, Pervis stood trial. He was unanimously convicted by a jury and sentenced to death.
The court heard a heartbreaking victim impact statement from Charisse's mum Mary.
“He cries for his mum,” she read. “He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t come home.
“He cries for his sister Lacie. He asks me, ‘Grandma, do you miss my Lacie?’ and I tell him ‘yes’. He says, ‘I’m worried about my Lacie’.”
While Victim Impact Statements had never previously been allowed in court, the Charisse Christopher case saw a change in legislation which has meant every victim since has had the right to read one.
The impact of Charisse and Lacie’s murder goes on for their family. For Nicholas, it’s meant a lifelong guilt that he has tried to rectify by keeping his mum’s voice alive.
“I feel I failed Lacie because I wasn’t able to protect her,” he concludes. “Even though I was only three, to this day I still feel I could’ve done something different to have kept her here with me.
“I survived, and I really do feel keeping my mother’s voice heard is the reason why.”
Impact Of Murder, continues Monday, June 29, at 11pm on Investigation Discovery.
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