“He's been hiding behind the veil of being a pastor and religion, and using that to manipulate minds,” Joseph Hunter Jr., Joanna Lewis’ brother, told “20/20.” “Obviously, these new charges helped bring my sister's story to light because they started to dig now.”
Joanna Lewis’ family always believed their estranged son-in-law played a role in her death. They said Joanna Lewis died after years of isolation from her family. She repeatedly applied for protective orders documenting years of abuse before they were married, including two hospital visits for beatings.
In one protective order petition obtained by "20/20" Joanna said, “I was hung up on the wall, choked, slapped, punched, kicked, thrown and badly beaten up by Mark.”
Her body was found by Mark Lewis hanging in a closet with her feet touching the ground. Mark Lewis said he was playing basketball outside with a friend before the discovery. According to police reports, instead of cutting her down or calling 911, Mark Lewis called a friend.
Nottingham's subsequent claims “brought back all of the memories of what Joanna went through and what we went through,” Patricia Hunter said. “I was not surprised by it.”
Like the Hunters, Nottingham had her own suspicions about the circumstances of Joanna Lewis’ death, telling "20/20," “My initial thought, because I had heard it was suicide, was that he did something to her.”
She worried she would end up the same way.
“I knew that ... it [was] definitely not healthy, and it wasn't going to end well,” Nottingham said. “I was scared, at that point, to break things off with him. I didn't know how.”
The Hunter family is encouraged by the reopening of their daughter’s case.
“It's her saying, 'You don't understand. Don't take it for what it appears to be,'" Patricia Hunger said. "And we feel that voice is beginning to be heard.”
Mark Lewis declined several requests from "20/20" for an interview.