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Why Is Choosing The Wrong Mate So Dangerous?

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Cassandra Betts, affectionately known as Sandy, is a prime example of why choosing the wrong mate is so dangerous. Sandy was six weeks pregnant by her on-again, off-again boyfriend of several years, 31-year-old Tony Ringer. When Sandy told Tony that she was pregnant with his child, he became enraged!



He was so furious that he lured Sandy to the parking lot of a local auto repair shop under the pretense that he was having car trouble. There, he stabbed and then shot Sandy to death.

Tony committed this brutal act of domestic violence just moments after he and Sandy had attended Bible study together. In the back seat of Sandy’s car was her 7-year-old daughter, Justyce. Traumatically, the little girl stayed with her mother’s body until the next morning. This is a portion of an interview I did with Barbaranne Irving, Sandy’s mother.

by Gillis Triplett

Hello Barbaranne and thank you so much for joining us. We have some tough questions, so let’s jump right in…

How did you feel about Tony when you first met him?
I did not like him.

Why did you feel that way about him?
The reason is because he seemed too flashy. What I mean is, he was driving a brand new BMW, sporting the newest designer suits, flashing large amounts of money and flaunting his celebrity status, so to speak. He felt he was important due to all of the professional athletes that he knew and associated with. They were his biggest clients. Seeing that Tony was a physically small man, he always gave me the impression that he was a little man trying to fill a big man's shoes.

How did you express your feelings to your daughter?
I asked her, where did you meet him and how well do you know him?

What was her response to your concerns?
Her response was, she met him at our family carwash and he's all right, he's a good guy and he has his own business. Because Tony had gone to school with my nephew, Sandy and I both felt that he was okay. My nephew even validated his character.

Did anyone else in your family express concerns about Tony?
No, not at first because many in the family knew him. But later on, from what I have been told, there were reasons to be concerned.

Did Tony attend church? If so, was he involved in the ministry? Did he have any positions such as deacon or Sunday School Teacher? Did he hold any ordinations or licenses to preach that you are aware of?
Yes, Tony attended Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church. He was very active in church but I am not sure to what degree. I do know he was well respected there. I don't believe he held any type of license from the church.

Was he established in the community, such as business leader, etc.?
Yes, He was the owner and operator of the Positive Image Barbershop here in Cincinnati. His clients included professional athletes from the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Why do you feel your daughter couldn't see how dangerous Tony was?
I think the reason was because she was thrilled and enamored by his status. She assumed someone as popular and well known as he was, could not be dangerous. Plus, everything he did was 1 st class.

Had Tony and Sandy lived together at any point?
No, when she met Tony, he had just gone through a divorce.

Do you know if Sandy had any knowledge about the circumstances behind Tony’s divorce?
Sandy expressed to me some of the things Tony was facing with the divorce. Apparently, they had been separated for over a year before his wife served him with divorce papers. Tony was not happy with what was going on with the process. He said his wife was taking him through the ringer. They had a little girl and he was not happy that he would have to pay his wife alimony and child support.

It was discovered that Tony persuaded or coerced Sandy into having a number of abortions, when did you find that information out?
I found out during the court proceedings. Tony told his attorney and they wanted to use that information in the trial. Planned Parenthood would not release the information to them. Seeing that I was the executor of her estate, they released the information to me.

How did it make you feel once you found out?
I can say that I was very shocked at the number of times he had forced her to have an abortion.

To your knowledge, did Sandy discuss or even broach the subject of abortions with you or with other family members or friends?
No, not to my knowledge. Sandy had dreams about her wedding day. She was telling everyone. She was happy and looking forward to getting married to Tony, so I couldn’t see her aborting any baby.

After Tony had been dating your daughter for a while, did you or anyone else detect any clear-cut warning signs concerning his character?
There were a couple of sign's, for example: Tony would go to various NFL games, but if Sandy wanted to go, he would always tell her no. I would question her and say, “Don't you think that's kind of strange that he never allows you to go with him?” Secondly, her sister Yolanda and my son-in-law told me that Tony called them one time on Sandy's birthday and wanted them to take her out because he said he had a “bachelor party to attend." My daughter and son-in-law said they refused. Apparently Tony’s bachelor’s party was much more important than Sandy’s birthday.

Barbaranne, what would you say to the many women who are dating or being courted by men who are treating them as Tony treated Sandy?
I would tell them to terminate their relationship with that person! If in the beginning, the relationship seems to be a little strange or rocky, it will only get worse! Due to the high number of women losing their lives through the domestic violence, it is a good idea to find out as much as you can about the person you are dating. I suggest, getting a background check. For example: checking the Internet and see if they have been in prison or have any prior convictions.

Had Tony proposed to Cassandra at any point? Did he give her an engagement ring, promise ring or any other type of jewelry?
Yes, to my knowledge, they were engaged to be married.

When Sandy acknowledged that she was pregnant, did you notice any change in her mood, activities or disposition as far as Tony was concerned?
She wasn't alive long enough for me to see her. She found out that she was pregnant the week before Tony murdered her. She told me on Thursday that she was pregnant. She told Tony on Friday. He did not believe her and insisted on a sonogram, which she had on Saturday or Monday. Sandy was with Tony at Bible study Wednesday night and dead by 12:05am that Thursday. I have e-mails of her conversations to her friends about the baby and how excited she was. She was so happy that she had already picked out names.

If anyone told you that a man who attended church, owned a profitable business and was a mentor to others, would have such an ungodly character, would you believe them?
No, but I have now come to believe that anything is possible…

If she felt like she was in trouble, would Sandy be the type to talk to you or with someone else?
Yes, to a point. The one thing I noticed was, she was always doing things that would make Tony happy.

Did Sandy ever give you or anyone else any indication that there was tension brewing between her and Tony?
Her sister Yolanda, and some of her friends and close co-workers were aware of the tension, but I did not know until Tony assaulted Sandy in October of 2000.

Are you saying that Tony physically assaulted Sandy?
Yes, he kicked her down the stairs, kicking her many times in the abdomen area, and slammed her into a mirror, breaking it. The thing that I could not understand was, if he was planning marry Sandy, what did she do that was so bad to cause him to beat her severely... a couple is supposed to be happy and looking forward to their wedding.

Did Sandy require any medical attention after Tony attacked her?
Yes, I took her to Mercy Hospital because the officer that responded to the scene of the incident said she only had minor bruises, so he did not have her transported.

Did she talk to you or anyone about the incident?
Yes, when I received the call about what had happened, I instructed her to meet me at the police department in her district. When I arrived, I was shocked to see that she had a busted lip and bruises to her face. She also complained of stomach and chest pains. I asked her, “What was done to Tony?” She replied, “Nothing!” She said the officer gave the both of them mediation papers, and suggested that they see a mediator. I told her that was not acceptable. We went into the police station and I questioned the officer in charge. He checked with the responding officer and I was told that he had done everything he thought should be done. I did not accept that. I instructed my daughter to file a domestic violence charge against Tony, which she did.

Do you know Tony’s reasoning for assaulting Sandy?
I later found out that it was due to Tony taking the engagement ring from Sandy to be sized, but instead of getting it sized, he used it to propose to another woman. Sandy wore that ring with a ring-guard for a long time. I would often ask, “Why don't you take it and have it sized?”

Obviously Tony was seeing Sandy and another woman at the same time. Do you know what happened to this other woman?
Tony murdered Sandy at approximately 12:05am, Thursday morning on December 21 st. He called me at 12:55pm, that same day, while we were out looking for Sandy and Justyce. I found out later that he called me from the courthouse where he was getting his marriage license. Tony had made wedding ceremony arrangements with the Pastor of Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist that Monday, December 18 th, to get married that upcoming Saturday, December 23 rd, to the other woman. To my knowledge, they did not get married at that point because he was arrested for murdering Sandy, but during the court proceedings, they did get married. Their marriage was annulled when Tony was sent to prison.

What would you say to the family members and friends who know that someone they love and care about is involved in this type of a relationship?
Love is not supposed to hurt. If you have a family member or friend involved in an abusive or violent relationship, urge them to get out! Be there for them at all times. Talk to them regularly and show them what a good relationship looks like. Help them understand that no person has the right to abuse them. Have them contact organizations such as the: National Domestic Violence Hotline, TOLL-FREE at 1-800-799-SAFE, or the YWCA Crisis Intervention Center, TOLL-FREE at 1-888-872-9259. In the case of emergencies, they should dial 911! Help is available .

The days leading up to when Tony murdered her, did Sandy express at any time that she was going to leave Tony or that he was leaving her?
After Tony attacked her in October, Sandy had filed charges against him, and to my knowledge they were no longer a couple. As far as I could see, Sandy was okay with their break up. She was with me the day I had surgery on December 7 th, and forty-five minutes before Tony murdered her, she called the house and spoke to my husband. He said she was in good spirits.

Sandy’s 7-year-old daughter, Justyce, was in the vehicle when Tony committed this heinous crime, how is she doing?
She is doing better. She has her moments of outbursts… you find her in a corner crying. When asked what’s wrong, she replies, “I miss my mommy…”

What happened with Tony Ringer?
Tony is now serving a 21-year sentence at the Warren Correctional Intuition in Warren, Ohio, (See: Tony Ringer conviction).

Barbaranne, the statistics in the United States reveal that someone becomes a victim of domestic violence every nine seconds. In your final thoughts as a mother who has lost her daughter to domestic violence, what would you say to the women who find themselves snared in an abusive relationship or marriage?
This is a very hard question for me. The reason is, I am survivor of domestic violence. If I had been aware of the statistics back in the early 80’s, maybe my daughters would not have been subjected to see the abuse inflicted upon me and think that this is normal or okay. Sandy was 5 years old when she witnessed much of the abuse, and now, she lost her life to domestic violence. My granddaughter has not only witnessed the abuse, but she has also witnessed the murder of her mother as well. My goal and journey is to keep this abuse from going to a third generation. I do not want my granddaughter growing up thinking this is normal or okay. So if you are involved in an abusive or violent relationship, get out NOW…. especially if there are children involved. Our family motto is “Domestic Violence Kills the Ones You Love… STOP IT NOW!”

From The Heart of Gillis Triplett…
Abuse and domestic violence is just one of the many reasons why choosing the wrong mate is so dangerous. This is an issue that you cannot ignore. Domestic violence is too prevalent in our society for you to do so. As in Sandy’s case, it has reared its gruesome face and fiendish spirit in our sanctuaries!

That is why you must do your homework before falling in love. That means you must be properly trained. You must learn the reasons why people choose the wrong mate. You must know how to avoid the nine deadly - love, sex, relationship and marital booby traps. It also means you must be taught the current day dynamics of love, sex, relationships and marriage.

Don’t become another uninformed victim or casualty of love. I urge you to log on to and start the training process now! If you find yourself snared in an abusive or violent relationship or marriage, I earnestly pray that Sandy’s vibrant life and tragic death, becomes the beacon of light to show you the way of salvation… you must exit that relationship now! Barbaranne, we thank you for your time and our earnest prayers go with Justyce, with you and your family. May God bless you…

About Barbaranne Irving

Barbaranne is a survivor and a passionate activist against domestic violence. She works diligently with local community organizations, such as Women Helping Women, Parents Against Murdered Children and the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter. Not one to speak in front of large crowds, Barbaranne finds the inner strength to do so because of her fervent desire to help others break free from the dangerous cycle of domestic violence. She has spoken at local universities, Juvenile Detention Centers, and has appeared on the nationally syndicated program: The John Walsh Show and various other local talk shows. Barbaranne has set up a web site in honor of her precious daughter, Cassandra Betts.

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