HAMILTON, Ala. (WIAT) — For months, Brittni Baker and her family couldn’t breathe.

Since January, they’d been afraid that Christopher Yielding, a man who’d been charged with murdering their loved one, would find them.

Then, on a September Sunday night, relief came.

On the night of Sept. 18, after shooting and killing his father Charles at his parents’ home in Marion County, Chris Yielding killed himself, according to the county coroner and his mother. Yielding, 43, had been out on bond for the murder of his wife, Mandy Dozier.

Because of Chris’ actions, Brittni Baker would never get justice for her Aunt Mandy. But at least she’d get relief. Christopher Yielding would never hurt anyone again.

Brittni Baker had known Chris Yielding since she was eight years old. As a child, he was a great guy, she said.

“He was the guy that taught me how to do a headstand against the wall,” she said.

But the years changed Yielding, according to Brittni. When she found out that he was in a relationship with Aunt Mandy, she was surprised. Chris Yielding was a different man than the boy she’d known.

“I did not see them ever getting together,” she said. “And he was just mean. He was angry.”

She said that Mandy and Chris fought frequently. Police were called on more than one occasion.

And that wasn’t the Mandy she knew, either. She and Mandy had been inseparable during her childhood, Brittni said. In elementary school, Brittni wrote a letter about how Mandy was her role model. Years later, before Mandy had her oldest daughter, she wrote a letter to Brittni.

“In the letter, she talked about how one day she wants a daughter like me,” Brittni recalled, her voice cracking with emotion.

Mandy loved to fish. She loved to hunt. She loved frogs, turtles and her dog Jagger. She could recite every single word of the movies “Friday” and “House of 1,000 Corpses.” And she loved Eminem.

But in the end, she made what turned out to be a fatal mistake, Brittni said:

“She made the mistake and trusted a guy that she shouldn’t.”

But Chris Yielding and Mandy Dozier had bonded. The two both enjoyed the outdoors – “arrowhead digging and stuff like that” – Brittni explained. Yielding had even proposed to Mandy in a place they loved – in a secluded area on the northern edge of Hamilton’s city limits.

It was there, Brittni said, near the place where Christopher Yielding had asked Mandy Dozier to spend their lives together, where he allegedly dumped her body, leaving her exposed to the Alabama sun for days. Her family would have to hold a closed-casket funeral.

Brittni found out Mandy Dozier’s body had been located through social media. The remains hadn’t yet been identified, but because of where they’d been found – at Chris and Mandy’s spot – Brittni knew the worst had come to pass.

For days before her body was found in 2020, Dozier had been missing.

Her family had last heard from her on a Monday night.

“We had all talked to her that day,” Brittni said. “She was going home. My grandma, which was her mother, had talked to her. She was making pork chops for supper, and everything seemed fine.”

On Tuesday, Mandy’s oldest daughter went to pick her up for a doctor’s appointment. Her mother wasn’t there, but Chris was. As she approached the house, Brittni said, Chris ran out of the front door and told Mandy’s daughter that her mother had left the night before and never returned.

Eventually, Brittni explained, Chris agreed to file a missing person report but he never followed up. On Saturday, Brittni decided to file a report herself.

“She would never go that many days without talking to her children,” Brittni said.

When she arrived at the police station to report Mandy missing, the building was a ghost town. An employee told Brittni that police were “on a big case.” The case, Brittni would soon find out, was her aunt’s.

That Sunday, Christopher Yielding was arrested for the murder of Mandy Dozier, according to court documents. Yielding shot Dozier in the head, prosecutors alleged.

Yielding’s arrest for Dozier’s murder was the latest in a long line of interactions with police.

Court records show that as early as 2002, Yielding faced charges related to violence against others, including his ex-wife and his mother, Effie Mae Yielding.

In 2006, a condition of Yielding’s bond on a charge of criminal mischief was that the man have no contact with his mother. That charge was later dismissed.

In 2016, in a case where Yielding was accused of assaulting a man with a knife, Yielding’s parents signed a letter to a local judge asking that their son be given a “second chance.”

The letter claimed that the parents had long believed that Chris Yielding required psychological help. Yielding was hyperactive, they wrote, and was paranoid.

“He once told us that he saw satellites in the loft,” they wrote, “And would look at his phone and say ‘Look at these dots. They will be here soon.’”

They concluded the letter with a plea.

“Please, your Honor, give our son a second chance,” they said. “He needs psychological and addiction help, not prison.”

Three months later, Yielding was accused of menacing his mother after shooting a gun into the air at her home.

Now, nine months after her son bailed out of jail on a murder charge, Effie Mae Yielding told CBS 42 that when Chris arrived at her home on Sept. 18, he had nothing to say.

“My son shot him,” Effie Mae said of her husband.

Charles Edward Richard Yielding, 80, had served as a minister, she said. The couple had been married for 63 years.

“He was a good fella’,” Effie Mae said. “And he was a good daddy.”

Brittni Baker said she has no hatred towards the Yielding family but that Chris’ death came as a relief.

In January, Brittni’s grandmother – Mandy’s mom – passed away. As she sat at her funeral, Brittni’s phone rang. It was the local district attorney’s office. A representative told Brittni that Chris was being released on bail.

“I was terrified,” she said. “I was so scared he was going to come kill or hurt her kids.”

Yielding was released on Jan. 25 after satisfying a $500,000 bond, according to court records.

For the nine months after he was released, Brittni and her family held their breath. They avoided going places they thought they may see Chris. Everywhere they did go, they felt haunted. It was a life of terror.

But on that September Sunday, everything changed.

“For the first time since January, we’ve been able to breathe,” she said.