NEWPORT, Ark. – Kaitlyn Weatherford never saw the face of the man accused of killing her father until today, when she was scrolling through Facebook.
“I was on my lunch break at work scrolling through Facebook,” Weatherford said. “I had to go home because it caused me to have a panic attack. I’ve never once seen the kids face so when I did, it was like I finally was able to put a face to who killed him. I still struggle daily and seeing it broadcasted to the public before I even knew anything felt like a slap in the face. It’s been traumatizing enough as it is. I just wish I would be informed before its broadcasted to everyone else so maybe I could prepare myself.”
In June, 2017, Kaitlyn lost her best friend and father, Lt. Patrick Weatherford with the Newport Police Department. Weatherford, a 15-year veteran with the department, was fatally shot during a foot chase with suspects. The 16-year-old suspect, Derrick Heard, is charged with capital murder.
On Thursday, March 21, 2019, an August 6 trial date was set for the murder by Circuit Judge Harold Erwin during a contentious hearing in which Erwin derided legal counsel for the 16-year-old suspect. Erwin was angry over repeated delays in the case and had a verbal conflict with Little Rock attorney Ronald Davis over the matter.
Finally, trial was set and the suspect was taken from the courtroom, with photos being taken and published online. And for the first time since losing her dad, Kaitlyn was unexpectedly hit with the suspect’s picture, news about the case, and so much to process, it caused her to have a panic attack while at work.
“Today was so hard for me,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ve never once seen his face until today and i had no idea any of this was happening, so when I saw it brought up, it took me by surprise. I never even get to brace myself for anything until it’s right in my face and it’s never coming from the people who should include me. I see it when the entire public finds out and it’s so tough for me. My dad would of never wanted his people to treat me in the ways they have. He would want me to be included.”
Kaitlyn also doesn’t understand why the case was delayed for six months. It would be a good question for her to ask a victim advocate from Third Judicial District Prosecutor Henry Boyce’s office. Unfortunately, there isn’t one assigned to the daughter of the fallen police officer. Both Boyce’s office and the Newport Police Department have not updated Kaitlyn since 2017, she said.
“Like none of those people even act like I exist,” said Kaitlyn.
The truly sad part is why she hasn’t spoken up until now: she’s afraid she will be attacked by online supporters of the aforementioned parties. Only after NEA Report reached out to her on Thursday did she open up in great detail. Even then, she wanted the public to know she wasn’t bashing anyone. She just doesn’t want to suffer anymore by being left out.
“Just please, please, please try to make seem like I’m not bashing anyone,” Kaitlyn said. “I’m not. It’s just upsetting how I don’t get any kind of heads up from anyone. The moment the public finds out is when I find out. I just want justice for my daddy and that’s it.”