Mother raises awareness for domestic violence after losing her daughter

Sep 24, 2021, 7:12 PM | Updated: 10:33 pm

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — A mother who lost her daughter to domestic violence shared her story with KSL’s Tamara Vaifanua.

She hopes no other families will have to go through the pain she experienced.

In May 2020, officials found Chynna Toilolo’s body in Ogden Canyon. 

She was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend, Andy Dennis, who is now serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for her murder.

Terri Toilolo and her only daughter, Chynna, were inseparable.

“We were so close we did things together, we talked. She was my shopping partner. We’d get mani pedi’s every weekend,” said Terri Toilolo.

Their bond changed forever on May 9, 2020. It was the night before Mother’s Day, and it was the last time Toilolo saw her daughter alive.

Chynna Toilolo

“I think about the what ifs, the could have, would have, should haves,” said Toilolo.

Chynna Toilolo got into an argument with her estranged boyfriend at his home in Pleasant View.

During the argument, police said Dennis strangled the 33-year-old before dumping her body near a river in Ogden Canyon.

Terri Toilolo said Chynna broke up with him before that night, and she begged her daughter not to go back.

“How do you get to a point where you decided to take someone’s life?” Terri Toilolo questioned.

Chynna Toilolo hid her struggles from her family, but she’s not alone.

“What happens privately in a relationship does not always show itself to the rest of us,” said Melissa Haenchen, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Prevention coordinator.

According to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, one in three women and one in four men have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. 

Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.

“On average, it does take seven times for a white woman, and the numbers are even higher for folks of color to leave a relationship,” said Haenchen.

Warning Signs

When asked if there was an incident or point in Chynna’s relationship with Dennis that Toilolo and her husband became concerned for her safety, Terri reflected on a violent argument she learned about later.

“They got into an argument. She jumped out of the car as he was beating her up, and she was trying to save her life,” she said.

Toilolo believes her daughter didn’t confide in her because she was scared or embarrassed.

That’s why she is sharing her daughter’s story.

Seeking Help

As a result of her daughter’s murder, Terri Toilolo hopes others, and especially those in the Polynesian community, will seek help for abusive relationships. 

“In Polynesian culture, we feel like this only happens in the movies. Never would be me. If my Polynesian people are listening, open your hearts and understand and listen,” she said.

Available Resources

If you know someone who is going through abuse, there are ways you can help:

  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition operates a confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).
  • Resources are also available online at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition website.

List of events happening in October as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

  • 5th Annual KAVA Talks Dinner and Silent Auction
    • October 29 from 6-10 p.m.
      • They are looking for Silent Auction/Donations if anyone is willing to support. All proceeds will go to our communities to help families that are survivors of Domestic Violence.
      • Link to join in on dinner: Eventbrite for KT Dinner
KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Cottonwood High lines up for a free kick following a fair catch against Jordan High. (KSL Sports)...
Andrew Adams

Coach, kicker & official reflect on Cottonwood High’s rare, game-winning play

Cottonwood defeated Jordan High after the Colts attempted and converted a free kick for three points with 12 seconds left following a fair catch on a punt.
4 months ago
Karah Brackin

Utah Veterans head to Washington D.C. for ‘trip of a lifetime’

75 veterans left Salt Lake City for Washington D.C. Tuesday morning.
4 months ago
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, introduces himself as a member of a n...
Ashley Imlay, KSL.com & Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Supreme Court declines to hear Utah gun rights activist’s appeal to overturn bump stock ban

A prominent Utah gun rights activist has lost his bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal bump stock ban.
4 months ago
Yvette Rodier, shooting survivor...
Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

LETTER PODCAST: Victim says bullet wounds were easiest part of recovery

When Yvette Rodier woke up in a hospital, she knew, even before anyone told her, that her friend, Zachary Snarr, was dead.
4 months ago
Housing construction....
Ladd Egan

Unaffordable Utah: Mortgage rates climb again as buyers look for price reductions

Utah's housing market is whiplashing as last year's buying frenzy seems to have slowed down to signs of a recession.
4 months ago
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: How cybercriminals use social engineering to get us to hand over our sensitive info

You can have the strongest, most secure password in the history of cybersecurity, but the bad guys know there is one weakness they can use to hack into your system - you!
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Mother raises awareness for domestic violence after losing her daughter