State News

Report: Domestic Violence Homicides Increased in 2006

Posted March 14, 2007

— The number of people in North Carolina who died last year as a result of domestic violence increased slightly over the previous year, but that's not the only reason that victim advocates are calling for tougher laws targeting abusers.

They're also concerned that one woman was killed inside a domestic violence shelter in 2006 - something national advocates have said rarely happens.

Bonnie Woodring was staying in a shelter in the western North Carolina town of Sylva last September when her estranged husband pushed his way into the building and killed her with a shotgun.

"It really shook up the domestic violence community and made people reassess whether we're doing everything we can to keep battered women safe," said Marie Brodie, training and media relations coordinator for the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The coalition said Wednesday that at least 79 people were victims of domestic violence homicide in 2006. The number, based on reports from advocates and family members from across the state, was 70 in 2005 and 82 in 2004.

Fifty-five women, 19 men and five children were among the 79 victims, according to the report. Brodie said the number of children who witnessed the murders in 2006 - at least 35 - was especially alarming.

The report cautioned that the number of domestic homicides might have been higher because the organization depended on information from individual counties.

Advocates said they hope the Legislature will pass a bill making a second violation of a protective order a felony. And on Tuesday, a bill unanimously approved by the House would add stalking to the list of offenses a judge must consider before granting pretrial release. It would also amend domestic violence laws to increase reporting on homicides where the victim and perpetrator have a personal relationship.

The measure was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Darien Russell, whose daughter Keara Hart was killed by her boyfriend last April, said she hopes lawmakers will consider making abusers serve more time in prison. Damego Lee, who was sentenced to life without parole, had a history of abusing another woman before he was with Hart, Russell said.

"I fully believe that if the laws were what they should be, then my daughter would be alive today," Russell said.

While the coalition has tracked domestic violence homicides since 2002, Brodie said decreasing the number of those killed isn't easy. The best advocates can do is work for tougher laws and keep pressing for more money for shelters and prevention programs.

"The thing about domestic violence that makes it so difficult is that we don't know what abuser is going to become a murderer," she said.

24 Comments

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  • COPs eye Mar 15, 2007

    I am a Cop and as far as Domestic Violence the law is not only the problem. In most cases in my county the victims are the problem. My explain is simple. When we go to the same house on different incidents and the victim is told to press charges and the aggressive person goes to jail for 48 hours then gets a court date...THE VICTIM DOES NOT SHOW UP IN COURT!!! That is a cold hard fact!!! I agree the domestic laws should be stiffer on repeat offenders, however MOST cases the victims do not follow through with prosecution of the offender. Remember this...a person is innocent until proven guilty...sometimes women and men lie in order to get their partners locked up. You all are not seeing the totality of the circumstances. The whole picture. It is not a one sided issue. Victims are not always the victims sometimes they are the assailants. YES PERSECUTE THE REPEAT OFFENDERS, but hold victims to a standard of following through or punish them also.

  • Fence Straddler Mar 15, 2007

    Men can be victims too. The only outlet I was given was go to the magistrates office and have a warrant, subpeona or summons served on my insignificant other or keep playing the victim. I'm not an actor nor could I be playing a victim in something like this. There are other church groups and non-profits that are very good support networks (those worked for me and my significant other NOW).

    As the story shows 19 men were confirmed in the report of having been victims. NOT ONE SIDED!!! (Yes the majority are are women. Kids too are represented in this as victims).

  • Shelly M Mar 14, 2007

    As a former DV victim (1984), I feel that our society has become callused to violence. When even an officer of the law says "oh, another domestic situation" and rolls his eyes, you wonder what the average "joe" thinks. I'm obviously a survivor but I recall many times when people didn't want to get involved or help. We need to be aware of our surroundings, our neighbors etc. and be willing to step in (call for help) if something just doesn't "feel right". Be the good samaritan. Who knows what can trigger a domestic dispute into something worse. Sometimes its just having access to a weapon, any weapon...

  • CA Mar 14, 2007

    i think that something else has to be done with this issue because like you guys said "a protective order is just a piece of paper " and thats not going to keep them away it makes things even worst.

  • katgoesloco Mar 14, 2007

    Dear Joe Schmoe,

    Who are you calling a liar? I didn't say that ALL gay relationships were happy and harmonious. I said that domestic violence could be addressed better if those who claim to be interested in "family values" focused on domestic violence, instead of on gay relationships, 75% of which are happy and harmonious according to your own data.

  • All child molesters should die Mar 14, 2007

    Sad4all:

    You have been through so much. Just from reading your post, my minds-eye could "see" what you had gone though. That's really scary.

    I wish that men AND women, who abuse their partners, could be LOCKED UP, the very FIRST time they batter someone. And, I wish they could be locked up for several years, the FIRST time! If they kill a partner, in my opinion, they should get the death penalty, with absolutely no "automatic appeals!"

    I've never been a victim of DA, but I feel so sorry for those women and men, who have! Men get battered too. We just don't hear of it much.

  • Joe Schmoe Mar 14, 2007

    Burke and Follingstad's 1999 study on domestic violence in gay and straight relationiships found 27% of committed straight couples had experienced domestic violence in their relationship, while 25% of committed lesbian couples had experienced DV. The rate for gay males was about the same. So katgoesloco, don't give us this garbage about gay people all having "happy and harmonious domestic lives." That's a lie. They're just about as violent with each other as the rest of the population.

    See http://www.psychpage.com/gay/library/gay_lesbian_violence/dv_gay_couples_intro2.html for details.

  • mylife3kids Mar 14, 2007

    All of this is so true!!!If someone is violent enough..nothing will stop them. having a strong support group around helps you get through it all. I was in a very violent relationship..and still don't feel 100% secure. So that's why I pray everyday that the lord protect me and live everyday with my kids like there is no tomorrow!! B/C you never know. So those of you who do believe in protecting yourself with some sort of weapon... there's a 50/50 chance in the end it may not be you but you want to be willing to take that chance, (if you're in that position)!!! It's sad this much violence is going on.

  • packandcanesfan Mar 14, 2007

    sad4all I am so sorry you have been through so much. Take good care and keep yourself safe.

  • nc lover Mar 14, 2007

    N.C. Triangle area has grown leaps and bounds over the past
    several years. A lot of people have re-located especilly from the N.E. and their bringing there crime ways with them. Better nip problem in the bud quickly or the Raleigh area will soon be compared to places like New York - Oakland - L.A. etc.. and that would be a shame.I'm in California now. Been here for a year due to family illness. But am planning on moving back to N.C. by the end of the year.

    Parents - raise your kids right! you know who you are. Not all of you are doing a bad job. But crime needs to be addressed quickly and that starts with the up bringing of kids. Don't just feed them and put a roof over there head (GET INVOLED WITH THERE LIFE'S). N.C. is to wonderfull of a place to let it go to hell in hand bag!

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