Family of woman shot in workplace speaks exclusively to FOX19

Alisha Waters’ family breaks their silence in an exclusive interview with FOX19.
Alisha Waters’ family breaks their silence in an exclusive interview with FOX19.
Shooting victim's car parked within feet of medical building's door.
Shooting victim's car parked within feet of medical building's door.

CORRYVILLE, OH (FOX19) - For the first time since their sister was shot five times at work by her estranged husband, Alisha Waters' brothers and sisters are offering new details about the couple's stormy relationship. They agreed to talk on-camera with FOX19 on a sidewalk across the street from UC Medical Center Thursday afternoon as Waters underwent another surgery inside.

Doctors wanted to attach feeding and breathing tubes for her. At the halfway point of the surgery, doctors told them Waters was doing well and her vital signs were stable. The family met us outside because UC Medical Center spokeswoman Diana Lara said they could not talk to us inside the hospital.

While the siblings were emotional at times, they were clearly feeling better after having just heard from their sister's doctors.

"Her eyes are always open when you walk-in," said Kurt Russell, Waters' stepbrother. "You say her name. She wakes-up. We ask her questions. 'You all right?' And she'll shake her head yes or no."

Mr. Russell and other members of the family are incensed at what they call inaccurate coverage by some of Cincinnati's other TV stations. They're also angry about people who've had little contact with them or Waters' estranged husband, DJ Mathis, commenting about the relationship.

"We saw the abuse," said Melanie Russell, Waters' stepsister. "People that --- maybe on the outside --- they may not have seen it. But people that were close to her knew. And they knew that she was scared."

She and other family members say Mathis was mentally abusive. They also point-out that Mathis continued to call, text, and e-mail Waters and other family members for months after Waters first brought the cyberstalking to the attention to Judge Lisa Bushelman, in a petition for an order of protection, which Bushelman turned-downWaters also pointed out to the judge that she didn't believe Mathis was taking the medication he'd been prescribed for a mental illness.

Late Thursday night, Mathis' family told FOX19 that DJ voluntarily checked himself into a mental hospital, St. Elizabeth South, in the winter of 2007. He stayed there for 72 hours, which also happens to be how long medical officials can hold someone involuntarily in Kentucky. But the family emphasizes that he went to the hospital voluntarily after experiencing a severe panic attack.

Another incident that raises questions for Waters' family happened around 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Mr. Russell told FOX19 that he and his sister's new boyfriend, Justin Fryman, both got calls from a blocked number. The caller claimed to be a police dispatcher, said that someone had called 911, and wanted their addresses. Mr. Russell said he could not tell whether it was Mathis' voice but believes he was behind the call.

The family also revealed that Waters was so worried about her safety, she parked her red car as close as she could to the door of the medical building where she worked. FOX19 has footage of Waters' car still in its parking spot after police responded to the scene. Mathis must have ambushed her very quickly because she was only feet away from the door. Part of her body was inside an elevator when police arrived and found the bloody scene, her estranged husband's dead body on the floor nearby, where he'd committed suicide. The first officer who looked at Waters thought she was dead, too. But then he noticed her make a movement.

"I would really like to thank that officer for doing what he did because the paramedics said if he wouldn't have reacted as soon as he did that she wouldn't be alive right now," Mr. Russell said.

The family isn't certain what caused Mathis to purchase a gun Monday and shoot her the next morning. But they point out, not only did they get those strange phone calls early Saturday morning, Waters and her new boyfriend had just announced on Facebook on July 26 that they were officially a couple. The family says they had been dating for three months. The Facebook declaration of their relationship was just eleven days before the attempted murder-suicide. Could that have set-off Mathis?

"That I do not know," said Mr. Russell. "They had many problems. Their separation in March wasn't the first time that they had taken a break."

When she left Mathis for the last time in March, Mr. Russell said, his sister was afraid of her husband.

"Yes," he said. "She knew, you know, that he wasn't on his medication."

Mathis had a mental illness, according to what Waters wrote on her petition for the protective order. As for why his sister didn't leave earlier, Mr. Russell said that she's "just that kind of person. She's going to do anything and everything she can to make sure you are happy before she's happy."

Stepsister Melanie Russell is just two weeks apart in age from Waters. Their parents married when they were young so they've grown-up together.

"I would always tell people, she's the nicer one of us two," Ms. Russell said. "I'm the alpha personality. And she was that give you the shirt off her back" kind of person.

The family also revealed --- despite what authorities have told the media --- that Waters has never been in a coma. She has been able to communicate with them through eye and head movements. They hope she'll be able to talk in a few days. Doctors have told them that if she survives --- and that is still an open question --- Waters will be paralyzed because one of the bullets severed her spinal cord. However, the most life-threatening gunshot wounds were the three in her abdomen because of all the destruction they did to vital organs.

As they keep vigil inside and outside Waters' room, the family has chosen not to give her too many details of what happened Tuesday morning because "the terror that she went through that day is just something that --- that's what hurts everybody the most," Mr. Russell said.

"The fear that she experienced from her car door to that elevator," he continued. "I can just imagine my sister's fear that she was going through."

Sometimes it's a good thing when the brain doesn't remember.

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