Augusta family remembers Sherry Murphy

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October 13, 2006

After nine months in a coma, Sherry Murphy, the victim of a brutal rape, died this morning.

Only on 12, two of her closest friends share their story.

News 12 spoke with Greg and Carol Bernard about the woman whose smile they'll never forget.

Just as they'd done for Sherry, the couple invited us into their home to talk more about their Christian sister.

Greg and Carol Bernard opened up their hearts - and their home - to Sherry Murphy.

"She was like family to us," Greg said. "You know, we were the only family she had."

They called her their Christian sister.

After moving to Augusta, she slept in their guest room, even ate at their kitchen table.

During that time, she attended their church.

"She really loved the Lord for the Lord being who he was. She really did," Carol said. "And yes, she did cling to him in that she knew she needed him."

Perhaps it was her relationship with God that allowed her to escape death that dreadful day last January, when police found her severely beaten behind Augusta's Silver Bullet Lounge.

The physical trauma launched her into a nine-month coma.

It also led to the arrests of two men: Michael Christian Clay and Carl Lamont Jones. They were charged with aggravated assault and sexual battery.

"We really grieved. We really grieved. It was so hard," Carol said.

The Bernards made routine hospital visits, once a week for the last nine months.

"She was deemed to be comatose by I guess the news account," Greg said. "But when we would go see her she began to respond to us."

The progress was encouraging.

But then, they say, she developed a high fever and never recovered.

It would be their last visit.

"So we thought too that it was very, very important to go up and pray with her each time," Carol said. "And it gave her a greater measure of peace I think. She was very peaceful when she died."

The Bernards say they pray for Sherry's attackers as well, who, pending autopsy results, may face murder charges.

Greg Bernard finished writing Sherry's obituary today. He said it would appear in Saturday's newspaper.

The two men who were charged with aggravated sexual battery in Sherry Murphy's case are still in jail.

Michael Christian Clay and Carl Lamont Jones were both indicted in February.

If the autopsy shows the assault killed her, the charges will be upgraded to murder.

Clay is also suspected in four other rapes: three in 2000 and one in 2003.

Carl Jones was arrested back in 2003 for a murder that year, but he was acquitted on those charges.