Lynchburg, VA - For the first time, family and friends of Thomas Belford, the Lynchburg man strangled to death last weekend, are speaking out.
Belford's wife Dorisia says that he was at TGI Friday's in Lynchburg with a friend on August 11 might. Around midnight, he headed over to the Old Dominion Lodge after a friend invited him. Just a few hours later, Thomas Belford was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Two weeks ago, Thomas Belford celebrated his 34th birthday.
"Ten years from now, I want my grandsons to remember him...have something to look back on, remember their father," said Karen Eberhardt, his mom.
Belford leaves behind four children. One of them plays for the Timberlake Lions youth football team. So on Saturday, he played his game in honor of his father.
"The first thing my oldest son Jaylin said is, 'I'm doing this for dad, I'm doing this for dad,'" said Dorisia Belford, his wife.
"He strived hard, and the most important thing was his family, his sons, and he brought that on to the football team," said Eberhardt.
Belford's family and friends also came out to support the team that Thomas loved. They say he coached teams like the Lions and the Crimson Cardinals for many years.
"He gave it all, he gave it all on the field, and he gave it all in life," said his cousin Tyrone Belford.
His wife Dorisia says she is just taking life minute by minute, knowing on Sunday she'll be laying her husband of nine years to rest.
"It's a part of life but Thomas' life was taken way too short, way too short," said Dorisia.
In the meantime, many questions still remain. All that's left of Coach Thomas are many memories.
"It was so senseless, and he didn't deserve it, he was loved by a lot of people," said Eberhardt.
Police say Shawn Johnson is being charged for the second degree murder of Belford. Belford's funeral is set for Sunday at 8 at St. Baptist in Lynchburg at 3 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend.