It's supposed to be a day of love, but for the family of Tiana Notice, Valentine's Day will always be a sad reminder of the day their daughter was murdered in Plainville, Connecticut in 2009.
Tiana Notice doesn't have a date -- or so she thinks. But she is about to get a Valentine's Day surprise from an insanely obsessed ex-boyfriend who has already made her life a terrifying nightmare of harassment, threats and intimidation.
"He started stalking her, showing up wherever she was, whether out with her friends, she was out grocery shopping, at work," said Kathy Lewis, Tiana's mother.
While other guys are giving their sweethearts roses and candy, this crazy Valentine will give Tiana a knife, right in her heart.
Tiana Notice was a 25-year-old blessed with both brains and beauty. She seemed too smart to fall for someone as dangerous as James Carter II.
"I believe at age six we knew that she was special," said Alvin Notice, Tiana's father.
She was a genuine child prodigy way ahead of her classmates.
Tiana was so brilliant she ended up doing her first year of college at the same time she was completing her last year in high school.
Tiana would go on to graduate from the University of Hartford with a bachelor's degree in political science, and was in the process of her getting her master's degree when she met James Carter II on an Internet dating site.
"I don't know what she saw in him because I never met him in person. I only saw photos of him and I immediately disliked him," said Kathy Lewis. "You may want to call it mother's intuition."
"He was well-to-do and he's got his own house and stuff like that," said Alvin Notice. "So he presented well. He had a profile that he was working at insurance. And he was an executive."
But six months into their relationship, James Carter II is sentenced to five months in jail for the domestic abuse of a previous girlfriend, and Tiana learned he has a rap sheet for numerous other violent crimes including assault.
"It was about him. He had never told her," Alvin.
Tiana's dad speculates that Carter had been cheating on her, so she gives him his marching orders, and then is forced to take out a restraining order against him.
"And I said, 'What happened?' And she said 'He's just bugging me. He won't leave me alone,'" said Alvin.
Carter is so furious he takes out a restraining order against Tiana.
"He was claiming that she assaulted him and that she kicked his head light or tail light at the time, and actually punched him in the face," said Alvin.
Then Carter begins sending her threatening e-mails reading "Trust me baby girl, you are going to lose everything," "As God is my witness, punishment is on the way, so be prepared," "You will have bad luck, you hear me? Remember this email when karma bites you in the ass."
Tiana goes to Plainville Police Department to report him for violating the restraining order, only to be told by an officer the e-mails are non-threatening.
Carter continues harassing Tiana with phone calls, texts and e-mails, and she keeps returning to police to report him, to no avail.
"I didn't know why they didn't take my daughter seriously," said Kathy. "She went and visited the police station 33 times in six weeks."
Tiana's mom says Carter is also stalking Tiana sitting outside her apartment building in his car and following her when she goes shopping or travels to and from her temporary job at a local university.
But still the police take no action against Carter. And Tiana is left in tears after one visit to the Waterbury Police Department near the university after he repeatedly called her at work.
"She was in her car crying hysterically and she says, 'Mom you wouldn't believe these people, they treated me like dirt. They didn't believe anything I told them. They thought I was lying, and one officer accused me of having a fake restraining order,'" said Kathy. "Then I spoke with a sergeant that said, 'Oh, nothing's going to happen to your daughter.' He snarled at me. And I'm like, 'Look, I don't want my daughter to become a statistic, and I'm telling you now: If something happens to my daughter, you better move to another planet.'"
Then things get real scary when Tiana finds her car vandalized in her apartment house parking lot.
"Tiana texts me and said, 'Dad, my tires were slashed on my car,' and I said 'Did you see somebody do it?' And she said no," said Alvin.
Police tell her there is no way to prove Carter was responsible.
"But if we have a video, hands down we got something," said Alvin.
So her worried dad installs a security camera in her parking lot aimed toward her car.
"I spent four hours with Tiana that night, just kind of going over some of the things," said Alvin. "I even pretended to be someone who was coming at her that night. We actually did a role play as to if someone was coming at you, where would you go?"
Tiana returns home the next night to find a letter pinned to her front door, reading "Tiana forgive me. I never cheated on you. If I'm lying may God take my life. Forgive me for everything else I have done."
"The unfortunate thing for us, the tape ran out," said Alvin.
So once again they have no video evidence against Carter. But this time, Plainville Police attempt to call Carter to ask him to come in and give a handwriting sample.
"I said, 'Wow, thank God,' and we were celebrating,' and I told her, I said 'Tiana don't go anywhere near your house or anything. Be safe and wait until they arrest him,'" said Alvin.
But the next day, on Valentine's Day evening, Tiana makes the mistake of going back to the apartment to pack a bag.
Now, enraged, Carter is lurking in the shadows of her apartment complex on Valentine's Day evening, waiting for her to come home.
Carter viciously stabs Tiana about 20 times, twice in the heart, as she gets to her front door. But somehow she has the strength to make a 911 call.
"I'm bleeding to death," Tiana says on the 911 call. "My ex-boyfriend just stabbed me to death."
Neighbors come to her aid. You can hear her fading fast on the 911 call.
Then she loses consciousness. Tiana is rushed to the local hospital.
"We got to the hospital quarter of midnight," said Kathy. "I saw the expression of the receptionist when we identified ourselves, and I saw the look on the surgeon when the surgeon came out and told us that we're going to find a place to meet.
"Then the team of doctors came in, and they told me 'We did everything we could,'" said Kathy. "'We even did hand massage on her heart but she had lost too much blood and we couldn't revive her, and she's gone.'"
"So I went and identified her, she's on the table, looked at her, there were stab wounds everywhere," said Alvin. "And the first thing comes to mind: Who did it? Didn't have to think too long. I know who did it."
So did the cops, thanks to Tiana. Ultimately her dying words helped identify her attacker.
James Carter II is now serving 60 years without parole for the savage slaying of Tiana Notice. But that would never be enough for her parents.
"I really wanted to get to the bottom of it," said Alvin. "Looking at the face value what was going on I realized that there was a system failure."
And Alvin was determined to fix it so no one else's child would be murdered like his beloved daughter. And he knew what was needed.
"More action from the police, more action from legislators, more action from the courts," said Alvin.
In the seven years since Tiana's death, he's gotten action that has made authorities in Connecticut and other states take the deadly dangers of domestic violence seriously.
Through the work of the Tiana Angelique Notice Foundation that Alvin and Kathy formed with the help of Connecticut State Senator Mae Flexer and Karen Jarmoc, a former state legislator and now head of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, laws have been toughened to prevent domestic violence murders.
"We started a pilot program for GPS monitoring, which was largely connected to Tiana's tragic murder," said Flexer. "The GPS monitoring is put in place when the judicial system determines that an abuser is very high risk. They look at particularly the issue of lethality and trying to assess whether or not the abuser exhibits the traits that often lead to a murder, frankly."
"So through that system the victim is alerted when the offender is coming within a certain distance of their home, of their workplace, of their family members' homes," said Jarmoc.
"If James had a GPS on his person, Tiana would have known he was by her house," said Alvin. And she might still be alive
Following her murder Tiana's estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers who handled the complaints against James Carter II. A jury agreed with the family, awarding them a $10 million judgment.
Crime Watch Daily did reach out to both police departments for comment on this story but did not receive any response.