It’s been just over a week since Stephen Puryear’s 22-year-old daughter, Britny Jordan Puryear, was shot to death in her Fuquay-Varina apartment, and he finds himself in the unexpected role of advocate for domestic violence victims.
It’s not a role he wanted to take on, particularly as he mourns the death of his only daughter.
“It’s not going to bring her back,” he says.
Police say Britny Puryear was shot by her 21-year-old boyfriend Logan Connail McLean late Nov. 6. They had a son together, five-month old Andre Jordan. According to a search warrant application, McLean told police he “accidentally” shot her. He is in the Wake County jail without bail, having been charged with murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.
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But last week Stephen Puryear dug deep, speaking up at Britny’s packed funeral and a candlelight vigil at South Park, where she grew up playing rec league sports. He spoke to her friends and other women who might find themselves in a relationship with a controlling man. He said women should turn to their friends and family if they’re stuck in that kind of situation, and they should call police if they know someone who is.
“If she knew it was happening to any of her friends, she would want her death to mean something,” says Puryear, 47.
He said he doesn’t know if McLean hit his daughter, just that he seemed to isolate her from family and friends as time went on.
Britny grew up in Willow Spring, attending Willow Spring Elementary, Fuquay-Varina Middle and Fuquay-Varina High schools. She was a good student and was a member of the honor society, Puryear says.
She was a standout on the athletic field, too. She loved to play soccer growing up, and as a 10-year-old, she played on the 90 FVAA Flames with 12-year-old girls. They went undefeated two years in a row, he says proudly. He was a baseball coach, and she often was at the field during his games. At the end of her high school athletic career, she had turned to softball.
He says she was part of a fun group of friends. But after high school, he said, she fell in with a different group, and things changed.
She met McLean a few years ago through her newer friends, he said. Puryear said he didn’t have “good vibes” about McLean. In general, Puryear doesn’t like to talk about him much at all. He avoids the news on the shooting and bristles when he sees reports that his daughter had been arrested this summer for fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance, explaining that was McLean’s influence on her.
Instead, he wants to remember her, and he wants others to know her, as a sweet, loving friend and mother.
She worked at Jersey Mike’s in Fuquay-Varina, endearing herself to co-workers so much that the day after her death, Puryear says, a new crew of workers had to come in to allow the shop’s devastated workers to grieve.
She found her calling when she learned she was pregnant, he says. She knew she wanted to be a good mom.
“She thought she was going to have a nice little family,” he said. “She took care of him the best she could, not having much money.”
Puryear says they had called Britny’s son A.J. But he and Britny’s mom, Shelley, who have custody of the infant at the moment, have started calling him by Britny’s middle name, Jordan.
One of Britny’s friends has set up the Britny Jordan Puryear Forever Loved account at GoFundMe.com for people to contribute to her family’s funeral and legal expenses along with helping support Jordan. As of Monday, more than $4,700 had been donated.
That kind of support is helping Stephen and Shelley and their two sons as they encounter days full of tearful moments. Her former soccer team sent flowers, and players dropped by the house. More than 50 people released purple balloons with messages on them at her vigil.
“It was beautiful,” said Stephen, who works with Shelley at her family-owned Level Construction.
As Puryear struggles with what’s next, it somehow seems to make sense to him to speak out against domestic violence. On Wednesday, Nov. 19, the Wake County Domestic Violence Task Force is holding a rally and silent march at the Wake County Courthouse in response to Britny’s murder.
He thinks he might go, and if people want him to speak out more, he would consider it. His daughter put others first. She would want him to do that, too.
“God gave me strength to stand up for my daughter,” he says. “She’s an angel on my shoulder right now.”