SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn — The family of a Sullivan County woman who died after being found unconscious in her front yard is sharing their story with the hope of helping victims of domestic violence.
Melissa Mingle, known by friends and family as Missy, died tragically after suffering from blunt force trauma on Sunday. Police arrested Nathaniel White-Young in Hamblen County, later upgrading a charge of attempted murder to first-degree murder.
The couple's 2-year-old son, Landon, was initially reported missing after the incident but was safely returned to police after a social media post that was shared thousands of times.
"There's a lot of emotions going through right now," said Michael Mingle, Melissa's older brother. "I think sadness, obviously, grief but I think anger. Mix it all together it creates a pretty powerful emotional state that I can't explain. It's just hard."
Court documents show that White-Young pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in Oct. 2018, with Melissa Mingle listed as the victim. He was sentenced to probation, charged a $50 fine and told not to engage in any violent activity with Mingle.
While the pain is still raw for the Mingle family, they hope sharing her story will help victims of domestic violence leave unhealthy relationships sooner.
"My sister is such a kind and gentle person that she tried to change people. She loved this guy and thought she could change his evil way but she fell into the trap of thinking that he was a good person," Michael Mingle said.
Melissa Mingle was known for being a kind and generous person, who could easily light up a room and brighten a cloudy day.
Melissa and her niece, Emily, were inseparable from the day she was born. Unable to pronounce "Missy," Emily knew her aunt only as "Meme."
"She was always there for me," Emily Mingle said. "She was like another mom."
Melissa Mingle loved to dance. Working as a nurse's assistant during the day, she would spend most nights at her dance studio, Lasting Impressions, where she shared her passion with friends and family.
"I couldn't say goodbye," said Krystal Carico. "We have this thing that she said to everybody 'We love you so big.' That's what I told her, that until next time... I just couldn't say those words."
Carico, with the help of other friends, hopes to keep the dance studio running through the current season and beyond, in Melissa Mingle's honor.
But Missy, they say, would have wanted her story to end with a smile as big as her own.
"You can make any situation a good situation when she's around and I want to be that too, for her," Emily Mingle said.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224