TAMPA – When Ashley Atherley moved from Tampa to California with her husband in the spring, her family begged her not to go; he was abusive and controlling, they said, and nothing good would result of putting 3,000 miles between her and the people who care about her.
Now Ashley Atherley’s mother is in California, trying to arrange burial for her 28-year-old daughter, who was beaten and stabbed to death. Lucia Robles also is trying to get custody of her two grandchildren, currently in state care, while a nationwide manhunt is on for the husband, Edly Atherley, who has friends and family in Hillsborough County.
Edly Atherley has been charged on a warrant with the homicide of his estranged wife in California. He is accused of killing her in his home the last weekend of November.
San Bernardino police said Atherley was spotted by an officer Wednesday but fled before he could be taken into custody, The Sun newspaper in San Bernardino reported.
The suspect, 29, met his estranged wife for lunch the Friday after Thanksgiving and she never returned to work. Her body was found two days later. Ashley Atherley was 28.
Robles said her daughter moved to San Bernardino just before Christmas last year after her husband said his employer, Bank of America, transferred him there. In reality, Robles said, he only went there for an interview and did not get the job he wanted.
“We had begged my daughter not to go,” Robles said. “He isolated her from most of her family. I was one of the few that he was unable to prevent her from talking to. The last piece for him was moving her 3,000 miles away.”
Ashley Atherley had just received her associate degree and had enrolled for classes at the University of South Florida when her husband talked her into leaving for California, Robles said.
The couple married in June 2008, but by the end of November, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge, records show. The charged was dropped after Ashley Atherley refused to pursue charges, Robles said.
Her daughter, who grew up in Brandon and is a graduate of Bloomingdale High School, was reluctant to admit violence in the marriage, Robles said. She would say he would “break things” but that he never harmed her.
Recently, she left him and moved to Los Angeles, Robles said, finally admitting he had tried to strangle her. The police were never called because of the couple’s two young children, who were not in the home when the homicide occurred.
Investigators in California have handed out fliers, hoping someone would recognize Edly Atherley and call police. They also put in calls to places where they think Atherley may be headed.
“We have been notified by San Bernardino police that he may be en route to Hillsborough County,” said Hillsborough County sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter. “That’s all we got.”