Two sisters whose mother was killed in Airport Heights last month say Veronica Doyle was frequently abused by the man accused of taking her life.

Doyle, 57, was found dead on Firdale Drive in the early hours of Oct. 24 near her home in the east end of St. John's. Her boyfriend, William Conway, 50, remains in custody on charges that allege he ran Doyle over while he was drunk and then left the scene.

Lee and Michelle Doyle told CBC News that their mother's death and the 19-month relationship she had with Conway have motivated them to participate in the annual Purple Ribbon Campaign, which launched Monday.

Lee and Michelle Doyle

Lee and Michelle Doyle find comfort in photographs of their mother, and are determined to see that her death was not in vain. (CBC)

Michelle Doyle said she and her sister were unhappy soon after Veronica Doyle met Conway over Facebook, and were alarmed when they heard about Conway's history of domestic violence.

"He was very controlling over what she wore, and who she talked too. He was even controlling over her Facebook account," said Michelle Doyle, who urged her mother to return to the family home on Bell Island.

In time, the abuse became violent, the sisters said.

"She came and she had a big purple and black [bruise] all over her face there," Michelle Doyle said.  "[He would] kick her and you know, probably shove her out of the way. He was really cold towards her. I never did understand why she stayed."

Assault charge laid in August

Veronica Doyle, though, seemed determined to make the relationship work, even though she eventually reported abuse to the police. Conway was charged with assaulting Doyle two months before she died.

The sisters said their mother told them things would get better, even in her final hours.

"She told me she loved me, that she was coming back the next day, and within less than three hours later, she was gone," Michelle Doyle said.

The Doyle family is now more deeply involved in the campaign against violence against women. Their activities over the last month include gathering support for Iris Kirby House, the St. John's shelter that helps women and children who are escaping violent homes.

"That is something now that we will do every year in support of domestic violence, violence against women," said Lee Doyle.

"It does hit home because of Mom, but I will promote it for the rest of my life … and I'd say my sister and them will be right behind me."

Bail has been denied for Conway, whose charges include criminal negligence causing death and impaired driving.