‘She was my best friend’: Cleveland teen’s Valentine’s Day shooting was fun and loving, mother says


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‘She was my best friend’: Cleveland teen’s Valentine’s Day shooting was fun and loving, mother says

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — The mother of a 17-year-old girl who died two weeks after the Valentine’s Day shooting in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood said she was fun, loving and tolerant.

Destiny Woodall is Crystal Butchart’s only daughter and best friend. She died at MetroHealth on February 28 and has been hospitalized since the shooting.

Destiny’s boyfriend, Iykel Burkes, 21, of Cleveland, was indicted on Feb. 18 on charges of attempted murder, felony assault, evidence tampering, domestic violence and obstruction of duty, according to court records. Authorities did not say whether he would face new charges over his fateful death.

Butchart also has three sons who have been comforting each other since Destiny’s death, Butchart said.

Fate will turn 18 on March 28, and Butchart is fascinated by her daughter’s growth. Fate was born prematurely, but it didn’t seem to affect her life.

Destiny is expected to graduate in June from the Lincoln West Center for Global Studies in Cleveland. Her mother said she dreamed of becoming a heart surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic.

She’s also hardworking; for the past year, she’s worked five days a week at Wendy’s.

Fate is also outspoken. Her mother said she likes writing poetry and hairstyles, and she likes small children.

“She’s a voice I’ve never had,” Butchart said.

Destiny moved out of her mother’s home in November to live with Burkes and other friends. She didn’t have to travel far because her new home was across the street from her mother’s on Buller Avenue in Cleveland.

On the day of filming, one of Destiny’s roommates knocked on Butchart’s door and told her what had happened.

“I just remember being disgusted,” Butchart said. “However, I’m glad he was in custody and he couldn’t escape.”

On the night of the shooting, Birx was found with a gunshot wound to his hand and initially told police the shooting was an accident, according to police. Butchart doesn’t believe Burke’s story.

Butchart, a domestic violence survivor, had warned her daughter about Birx, she said. On several occasions, she said, she saw bruises on her daughter’s body and dark circles under her eyes.

Butchart also said her daughter had had sex with Birx since she was 14, but she didn’t know he was four years older than Destiny until the night of the shooting. The age of consent in Ohio is 16; it is against the law for anyone 18 or older to have sex with someone under 16.

Woodard fought for her life at MetroHealth Hospital for two weeks. Butchart describes the experience as a waiting game because she doesn’t know what will happen tomorrow.

“Every time we take two steps forward, it’s like we take two steps back,” Butchart cried. “I sang to her but I was impatient and angry and it hurt to see my baby on a ventilator.”

Butchart’s phone has been ringing in the aftermath of the shooting, as fate is beloved by many, including church members, students and staff at her school.

Butchart is also considering a move. She didn’t want to look out the window and see Destiny House across the street and relive the memory of what happened to her daughter.

“My heart will never heal, he (Birx) took my best friend,” Butchart said. “I just want him to tell what really happened and maybe one day he’ll apologize to me. Or maybe he won’t.”

Butchart paused for a moment when she was asked to recall some of her fondest memories of her fate. Every day with my daughter is full of memories; she’ll recall all their fun conversations and going to church together.

“I will remember every moment of her life,” Butchart said. “she is my best friend.”

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