RICHMOND — Sonsaray Warford is never far from her mother's mind.
"I get up every morning, thinking of her," said Roslyn Martin, 48. "Some nights I can't sleep and I will go through pictures and look at them. She's always there with me. I wake up thinking about her and I go to sleep thinking about her."
In an interview last week, Martin spoke about her daughter and the impact of her death. Sonsaray "Sonsi" Warford, 30, disappeared in late June 2010 along with her boyfriend, Charles "Chew" Walker, also 30.
Nearly two years after the couple disappeared, an investigation led Richmond police to Daniel Keene, 26, an Eastern Kentucky University student who, police said, confessed that he and Matt Denholm, 27, kidnapped Warford and Walker, killed them, and then buried their bodies in a field off Tates Creek Road. Both men are charged with murder, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence.
Police have said that Walker was the intended target of a murder-for-hire because he had stolen a large amount of money from a Richmond cocaine trafficker. Warford was killed not because she was a target but because she happened to be with Walker, a police affidavit says.
Martin said she had never heard of Keene or Denholm until their arrests.
"I'm sure my daughter never knew them," Martin said. "My feeling on it is, if my daughter didn't have anything to do with it, why would you still take her?
"That's the hard part of it: She didn't bother nobody," Martin said.
Martin described Sonsaray as the loving mother of two sons, Deshawn, 12, and Antwuan, 11. Anthony Warford, Sonsaray's husband and the boys' father, died in August 2005.
Warford's sons live with their paternal grandmother and a step-grandfather in Richmond. Martin sees the boys every other weekend. When Sonsaray disappeared, Martin she said explained to the boys that their mother would not have abandoned them.
"I knew she would never just walk off. If she went anywhere, she always called and told me," Martin said.
The boys had a hard time with their mother's disappearance. Deshawn reported that his mother had come to him in a dream.
"He just said that she said she would be back. That's all he would say," Martin said.
Police were able to preliminarily identify Warford from a tattoo. Martin said the tattoo on Sonsaray's left arm depicted a brick wall that says "Scabby," her dead husband's nickname, and the names of her sons.
Warford had worked as a cook at a Richmond nursing home, but she had not been employed for about a year after 2009 because of a back injury. Warford had planned to have back surgery in summer 2010.
"I'd been taking her to physical therapy and taking her back and forth from Lexington to doctors' appointments," Martin said.
For a time, while she was still working, Warford wanted to be a nurse and had attended classes at National College in Richmond. Claudia Mitchell, the paternal grandmother, would take care of Warford's sons while Sonsaray worked or went to class.
Martin described Warford as an attentive mother who used her work breaks to go watch her sons play football.
Charles Shelby, who attends the same church as Martin, said Warford would often cook for him after his wife, Ernestine, died in October 2004.
"She'd say, 'I've got some fish; would you like to have some?' I'd say, 'Sure,'" Shelby said. "So here she'd come. Or she'd say, 'Look, I've got some barbecue ribs. Would you like to have some?' And here she'd come, bringing them in."
Martin last saw her daughter in late June 2010. When her son and Warford's brother, Lamar, could not reach Sonsaray by phone, they went to Sonsaray's Richmond apartment. There they found Precious, a pit bull puppy, in a downstairs bedroom. Sonsaray's cell phone was plugged into a wall charger. Police later found Sonsaray's purse and her wallet containing credit cards during a search of the apartment.
Warford's car, a tan Chrysler, was gone, and so was Walker, her boyfriend. It was unlike Warford to go anywhere without telling her mother. The two talked often by phone each day.
Martin, according to a police affidavit, was the first to tell investigators that Walker had a death contract "hit" on him that had been issued by a cocaine dealer named Ja'Kolbe Chenault. Martin, in her interview with police and with the Herald-Leader, did not name a specific source for this information.
"After they came up missing, that's what came out on the street, that Ja'Kolbe had put a hit on them," Martin said. "It was just out on the streets."
Other sources interviewed by police confirmed that information. An associate of Chenault told police that he had arranged for Keene and Denholm to kill Walker, the police affidavit says. Chenault is awaiting trial on federal drug charges.
A little more than four months after Warford had disappeared, her car was found in Louisville by police there. The discovery was kept secret from the public and relatives until after Keene's arrest on March 26. Cellphone records showed that Keene had been near the spot where the car was found on June 30, 2010, two days after Warford was last seen.
Keene pointed out to police the field off Tates Creek Road where he said he dug a grave for Warford and Walker, and police recovered two bodies from that spot.
Relatives of Warford and Walker have marked the spot with roadside crosses and flowers. Martin said she and other women from her church, Victory World Outreach Center in Richmond, would frequently pass that spot as they took to the streets in a caravan of six or seven cars to pray for the city and for Warford's safe return while she was missing.
"We would circle around Richmond, and didn't know we were circling right around where they were," Martin said. "A lot of times I was calling out her (Sonsaray's) name while praying. We just prayed over the whole county. We talked about how many times we've been by that spot."
Martin said she went to the March 30 preliminary hearing in which Keene and Denholm appeared in Madison District Court.
"It was hard at first, before they even brought the boys out. I kinda cried a little bit," Martin said. "But I said, 'I can do this for my daughter. I can do this.'"