Asheville Citizen Times
Published 11:59 PM EDT Sep 18, 2018
WILMINGTON, N.C. – Lesha Patrice Murphy-Johnson was a loving mother with a contagious smile who dreamed of making a better life for her family, including her four children.
Those dreams ended tragically Friday when Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina and a large tree crashed into the 41-year-old woman’s home, killing her and her 8-month-old son, Adam.
Her husband, Adam Zachary Johnson, 48, was also injured at the home. Wilmington Police said he remained hospitalized in fair condition Tuesday.
The mother and child were the first reported casualties of the storm that, as of Tuesday, had killed 35 people.
According to a GoFundMe page set up by her 21-year-old daughter Chyna Doughty, Murphy-Johnson had four children, including Adam. Her other children were listed as Zahria,18, and Epiphany, 13.
“This tragic incident not only took the lives of our mother and brother, but it also took our home," Doughty wrote on the page in hopes of help seeking funding to toward items including funeral costs and a new home. "Our mother was our provider, as well as our main source of transportation."
As of Tuesday evening, the fundraising effort had reached nearly $4,200 of its $50,000 goal.
More: Florence aftermath: 35 dead; flooding leaves North Carolina residents seeking food, water
Doughty said her mother was attending Cape Fear Community College as a first step toward her MBA. She also was the owner of Glasses & Shotz bartending.
“She was determined to make a better life for us and herself and she was gonna do it by any means necessary,” Doughty said. “Her degree would have been used to get her business further and possibly land a better job so she could buy her dream home and support me in grad school and my sister in college next year.
“She loved to joke and laugh,” Doughty said. “To know her was to love her.”
Murphy-Johnson, who loved reading and video games, also formerly worked as the director of property management for the Wilmington Housing Authority.
“She was very dedicated. She really cared about our residents," said Katrina Redmon, Wilmington Housing Authority's CEO. "This is such a tragic event to have happened. I think it hit us all very hard. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Adam Sparks, who lives near where Johnson lived with her family, called the Johnsons “good people” who moved into the neighborhood about three years ago.
“She was a nice person. She would always have big family get-togethers at Christmas and Thanksgiving,” the 36-year-old Wilmington resident said as he peered at what was left of the Johnson family’s home on Tuesday. “It’s just so sad.”
Her family said a memorial service date is pending.
Follow Natalie Neysa Alund on Twitter: @nataliealund