Lantern Project: Since October 2013, Hope House has joined with other domestic violence programs around the state by implementing the Lantern Project. For our part in this statewide project, we added to the lamppost in front of Hope House a purple wreath. We will turn on the light for a week every time there is a death related to domestic violence in Wisconsin. We will post information online about the person(s) that was killed. If you drive by our building and see our lamppost on, please reflect on the deadly impact that domestic violence has on our communities. We know the list of stories we post here is incomplete. We strive to learn about and share these stories but know that there are some that we and the media miss. If you see a news story of a death in WI related to domestic violence and don't see it posted here, please feel free to let us know about it here. Thank you.
January 17th, 2020: Samantha Roberts, Age 20 – Nekoosa
When Samantha Roberts smiled, everyone around her smiled. That’s what her grandfather, Alan Roberts, said of his granddaughter. She had a sense of humor, too. Every so often, Samantha, who had cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair, would stick her leg out and pretend she was going to trip someone.
Roberts said Samantha loved joining him on walks. One night, she was having trouble sleeping after she had undergone surgery. Roberts said he laid with her until she fell asleep. “She was a very special little girl,” Roberts said. “I’ll miss that girl forever.”
Samantha was killed Jan. 17 at her home in Nekoosa. She was 20 years old, and an autopsy revealed she died from significant head trauma. Police arrested her mother’s live-in boyfriend, Paul Carter, 43, who admitted to hitting Samantha in the past but denied harming her the day of her death, according to court records. He was jailed on suspicion of first-degree homicide and remained in custody Thursday on a $1 million cash bond. His next court date is Feb. 4.
Samantha graduated in 2018 from Nekoosa High School with her sister, Destiny Roberts, 19. Samantha’s friends and family members remember her as a bright, carefree person who could make anyone’s bad day better. Her adoptive sister, Angel Wilson, said when Samantha was younger she loved to watch “Animal Planet” and read Dr. Seuss books. “I just want people to know how happy she was,” Wilson said. “There wasn’t a person who knew her who didn’t love her.” A Daily Tribune reporter was unable to reach Samantha’s mother for comment.
RELATED: Report: Nekoosa man admitted hitting woman with cerebral palsy days before her death
Samantha’s paternal grandmother, Donna Johnson of Macomb, Illinois, last saw the girl in 2012, after Samantha’s father, Leroy, died with leukemia. That’s when Samantha moved from Illinois to Wisconsin with her mother and siblings, Johnson said.
Johnson said they’re trying to remind themselves of the happy times they had with Samantha. One of Johnson’s favorite memories happened when they were trying to help the girl move around with a walker when she was younger. “She tried to run (me) over,” Johnson said. “(Her) daddy and grandpa and I all got a laugh out of that.”
Reba Roberts, an aunt who would look after her when she was younger, said Samantha always would smile and move to her favorite songs. She loved attention and stimulation from other people, Reba Roberts said, and she could always put a smile on your face. Brandi McMahill of Macomb became friends of the Roberts family when Samantha lived in Illinois. Her daughters loved spending time with Samantha. “If you were having a bad day, her smile would give you butterflies in your stomach and make you happier,” McMahill said. “Anyone who came in contact with Sammy, they were better for it.”