Officials: Estranged husband kills DFCS employee

spedersen@ledger-enquirer.com; tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 21, 2014 

A Department of Family and Children Services case manager died Friday after her estranged husband shot her seven times and then drove to the north side of town and took his own life, according to officials.

Tonya Moses-Charles, 44, of Phenix City, arrived at work around 8 a.m. at the Department of Public Health, 2100 Comer Ave., where police say her husband, Lyle Charles, 53, shot her several times. She was taken to Midtown Medical Center and pronounced dead at 8:56 a.m.

Her vehicle, a sky blue Jeep, was facing Comer Avenue Friday morning with the driver’s side window shattered and the door still open. Seven shell casing markers could been seen around the driver’s side and underneath the car next to it. Officers taped off a portion of the back parking lot for most of the morning as they investigated.

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said police tracked Charles’ cellphone to a dead-end street on Fortson Business Park Boulevard. It was there they found him suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot in the back seat of a Cadillac. He was pronounced dead at 1:33 p.m., according to Columbus Police Lt. Debra Bohannon.

Moses-Charles had two children, a 12-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter, according to her mother, El’Mur Lewis.

The boy was enrolled at Phenix City Intermediate, one of three Phenix City schools that went on lockdown soon after the shooting, when officials notified the school district. Students were under desks for nearly two hours as officials secured the premises.

Bryan said the two were married in March 2013, but didn’t have children together. He said Moses-Charles had four sisters.

“This is a tragic case,” he said.

This is Columbus’ fourth homicide of 2014.

New Horizons Division Director David Wallace said he did not know the victim personally, but encouraged any patients or employees to seek counseling for any trauma the event might bring up. DFCS employees were debriefed by Pastoral Institute staff members about the shooting shortly after it occurred, he said.

Lewis, the victim’s mother, said Moses-Charles worked in the Ledger-Enquirer’s classified advertising department after she graduated from college. She also worked at Alabama’s DFCS before changing jobs.

Recently promoted, she was scheduled to attend training in Atlanta but it was pushed back because of the recent winter storms. Her mother said she was looking forward to the new job she was hoping to start in March.

“I’m shocked to my soul,” her mother said.

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