Mother and daughter graduate from college together after unspeakable loss

Triumph over trauma

BOGUE CHITTO, Miss. (WLBT) - “It was something about that day. I just felt like Jordan and Austin were both here with me.”

Tiffany Blackwell is talking about her son Jordan and her nephew Austin, both killed in May 2017 when convicted spree killer Cory Godbolt went on a rampage, leaving 8 people dead. At that time, both she and her daughter Alexandria let their college studies go to the wayside.

“Jordan and Austin were killed, and after that I said, ‘I don’t see a purpose in finishing school right now,’” she said. “‘I don’t think it’s important.’”

But last week, both graduated from college – Tiffany from Jackson State University, and Alexandria from the University of Southern Mississippi. Husband and father Shon Blackwell wanted everyone to know the courage that led both women to get back on track, so he hosted a parade to celebrate their triumph.

Some drove by in person. Some, like Janet White, watched it on Facebook.

“And we were just like yeahhhhh,” she said, doing a little dance. “And you know we were just elated for mother and daughter, because we knew they had gone through so much.”

Alexandria says she knew it was time to go back after her son was born last year. She named him Jordan Joel – after her brother and cousin.

“I’m like okay, you’re not living for yourself anymore, you’ve got someone else that’s looking up to you,” she said. “You’ve got to make a way for him regardless of how you’re feeling in the moment.”

Tiffany says years ago when she went to sign up for JSU, her father skipped a business trip so he could go with her. When the plane he would have been in crashed, it killed several friends.

But her father, Pastor Eugene Edwards, wasn’t on it.

“So I made a promise to myself that I was going to graduate, and I was going to do it while my dad was here to see it,” Tiffany said.

Godbolt is accused of killing eight people in a crime spree in 2017. Earlier this year, he was found guilty on 4 counts of capital murder, 4 counts of first-degree murder, 2 counts of kidnapping, 1 count of attempted murder and 1 count of armed robbery.

Godbolt was sentenced to to death for the murders four of his victims, which included a deputy.

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