The daughters of a Michigan man convicted of murdering his wife with a hammer say they’re devastated their father took from them the stepmother they came to know and love.
A jury on Tuesday found 39-year-old Douglas Ball Jr. guilty of first-degree murder and torture charges after he fatally beat his wife, 30-year-old Lydia Ball, with a hammer, delivering 14 blows to the woman’s head.
Now, his daughters from a previous relationship, Kaitlyn, 18, and 15-year-old Alexys Hendrickson, are struggling to come to terms with their stepmother’s death and the fact that their father could go to prison for life.
“It’s really hard. Lydia was like another mother to my sister and I. She always was there for us,” Alexys tells PEOPLE. “Knowing that he did something like that breaks my heart. I never ever thought this would happen, ever.”
Lydia’s body was found in the basement of their home in Port Huron, Michigan, on Aug. 20. Authorities reportedly believe Douglas used an 8-lb. hammer, and it’s unclear how long Lydia was dead before her body was found. She was last seen alive on Aug. 18.
“I was relieved it wasn’t someone else and they had to keep looking, but I’m upset that it’s my dad,” Alexys says. “I feel better knowing he will be in jail for life, I don’t want anything to do with him anymore. Lydia was our second mom, and he took her from us.”
No History of Violence, Say Daughters
Authorities have not determined a motive for the slaying, and Ball’s attorney, Edward Marshall, previously told PEOPLE that his client had no history of domestic violence during his years-long marriage to the woman.
“That’s why we are all surprised,” Alexys tells PEOPLE. “He never really got mad over anything. I’ve never ever seen him hit anyone, never got mad and hit or anything.”
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Kaitlyn says that Lydia was “both a mom and dad” to her and Alexys, noting that her father was “too lazy to do anything with us.”
“She took care of us and bought us stuff we needed. She wasn’t just my stepmom,” she tells PEOPLE. “She was my best friend. I went to her for advice or just to talk. She was a great mother and friend.”
Kaityln says that Lydia’s 5-year-old son, Douglas III, lives with his grandfather and misses his mother very much. She says she has sought therapy in the months since Lydia’s death.
“The way she died was brutal. It was overkill. There was so much rage in it,” Kaitlyn tells PEOPLE. “It was extensive and something only a psychopath is capable of.”
She adds that she plans to visit her father in prison.
“I need to know why. I need to know what went through his mind to do this,” she says. “I hate him for killing her and for what he did to my brother and sister. I miss Lydia every single day.”