Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Paying Attention to the Signs

Posted November 12, 2007 5:27 p.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2007 6:23 p.m. EST

They called her "Liz," "Miss Lizzie," "Mama Liz."  She was an early-riser who always opened her apartment blinds on Saturday morning to greet the day. 

Sometimes, she would call down to one of the ladies in the neighborhood from her window and ask them to grab her a newspaper at the local store during their morning walk. 

Sunday afternoon, 61-year-old Naomi Elizabeth Harris was found dead in her apartment, the victim of a homicide.  Police charged the man Harris called her husband, 62-year-old Robert Lee Griffin.  The signs of domestic violence were there.

Neighbors knew something was wrong.  They often heard  loud noises, as recently as Friday night, coming from the apartment when Griffin was there, banging noises, things clattering to the floor. 

Recently, a neighbor inquired about the noises.  Harris sent her away, because she couldn't talk when Griffin was there.  But the friend came back after Griffin left.  Harris told her that her husband had been beating her.  The signs of domestic violence were there.

Griffin was a career criminal in multiple states, dating back to 1968, who, according to court records, might have spent more time in prison than out.  Raleigh police arrested him four times for violence toward Harris in the past few years.  The signs of domestic violence were there.

The signs were there.  We need to start paying attention to them.

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About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.