MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The stepfather of a murdered Miami mother has been granted temporary custody of her four children and he says “It was something I had to do.”

“My daughter would not have expected anything less, taking care of her kids. It’s something I had to. I was very close to her. We had a special bond,” said Patrick Donnell.

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“Even though I’m a stepfather, she always looked at me as her father,” Donnell told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “What happened here was a life changer. But you can’t dwell on this. It happens.”

Donnell is a civilian employee with the Miami-Dade Police. He said he hopes to one day adopt all four children.

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Donnell spoke after a hearing at the Juvenile Justice Center, just one day after his 28-year-old stepdaughter, Anshamere “Shay” Cephus was killed outside the Homeless Assistance Center in Miami.

Cephus’s 26-year-old boyfriend, Victor Pino, is charged with 2nd Degree murder and is being held without bond after a hearing Thursday at the Metro Justice Building.

Sources tell CBS4 that Pino shot Cephus because he believed she was having an affair with someone who worked at the Homeless Assistance Center. The shooting happened after sources say Pino took Cephus to the Center, known as HAC, and tried to get in but was not allowed to enter the facility.

In an arrest affidavit, Pino is quoted as telling police that he had an argument with Cephus and said she cussed at him and slapped him and claimed she tried to retrieve a firearm. He said he did not remember what happened and said he woke up in abandoned house.

He said he did not recall where the firearm was. Witnesses said they saw Pino standing over the victim. Pino turned himself in at Miami Police headquarters on Wednesday.

Cephus most recently worked at the Camillus House as a temporary employee in the kitchen.

“It took a lot out of us,” said Cephus’s mother, Lisa Ann Donnell. “She was my only girl. She was my daughter. I loved her. All I want to do is take care of her kids the way she did. For this man to come and do this, I’m glad he turned himself in.”

“I’m very happy we are getting custody,” she said. “It is not going to bring my daughter back. You know you live and you die. It hurts. But thank God we can take care of those kids. I know my daughter is looking down on me. I know she’s glad we’ll be taking care of her kids.”

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“I loved my daughter so much,” she said. “We were very close. We were like sisters.”

Patrick and Lisa Ann Donnell came to court with all of Cephus’ children including a 7-month-old girl named Promise, 4-year-old Marquise, 7-year-old Marcus and 8-year-old Javin.

The children have three fathers. It’s not known who Javin’s father is and the father of Marcus and Marquise is in prison, according to Lisa Ann Donnell.

She also told Juvenile Justice Center Judge Cindy Lederman that the father of Promise was not her daughter’s boyfriend but someone identified as Chris Davis. Judge Lederman ordered a DNA test to confirm that.

“I spoke to my daughter and she told me the father was Chris Davis,” said Patrick Donnell. Davis was not in court. Judge Lederman told the Donnells to reach out to him and she ordered that “all fathers” have no contact with the children.

Lisa Ann Donnell does not live with Patrick Donnell. And Judge Lederman expressed concern after it was learned in court that he had “some issues” with DCF.

A DCF representative testified that the agency investigated a claim that she mistreated one of her sons nearly two decades ago.

Judge Lederman said she would look into, while considering whether she should allow Lisa Ann Donnell to be a backup caregiver. Donnell will be allowed to care for the children in the meantime.

Patrick Donnell’s home received a “positive home study” from DCF.

DCF also spoke about its history with Cephus and her family. Lederman expressed concern that there were “repeated reports” of domestic violence including abuse.


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Peter D'Oench