Local News

Female homicide victims grab headlines

Posted July 21, 2008 6:38 p.m. EDT
Updated July 21, 2008 9:47 p.m. EDT

— The recent slayings of a Cary mother and two female soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg have raised awareness about violence against women and how women can protect themselves.

The number of female homicide victims pales in relation to male victims. For example, three of 19 slayings in Wake County and four of 14 in Durham County this year involved women.

But a number of high-profile cases in recent months have grabbed people's attention:

  • Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach was beaten to death in December, and her burned remains were found in a shallow grave in a fellow Marine's backyard near Camp Lejeune.
  • The body of Latrese Curtis, a student at North Carolina Central University, was found along Interstate 540 in January. She had been stabbed repeatedly.
  • Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina, was fatally shot in March on a Chapel Hill street.
  • Army Spc. Megan Touma's body was found in a Fayetteville motel room last month. The cause of death hasn't been determined.
  • The charred remains of Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc were found in a shallow grave in Onslow County last week. The cause of death hasn't been released.
  • The body of Nancy Cooper was found in an undeveloped Cary subdivision last week, two days after she was reported missing. The cause of death hasn't been determined.

"I think women have a legitimate concern about the amount of violence we're seeing against women in the media," said Adam Hartzell, executive director of Interact of Wake County, which helps women escape abusive relationships. "As a society, we need to say enough is enough."

Michael Teague, a former profiler for the Raleigh Police Department, said homicide usually isn't a random crime, but he said the area will see more crimes as the population grows.

"I think North Carolina is a very safe place to be," Teague said.

For Anny Jacoby, violence against women is personal. A survivor of domestic violence, she runs Realistic Female Defense and says self-defense is both mental and physical.

"Be proactive. If your gut tells you you're in an unhealthy situation, follow those gut instincts," Jacoby said.

Jacoby also knows a female homicide victim. Her son graduated from Chapel Hill High School with Irina Yarmolenko, a University of North Carolina-Charlotte student who was suffocated and left on the bank of the Catawba River in May.

"It could've been an ambush. She could've known the person. You don't know, that's the scary thing," said Jacoby, who plans to hold a special training class next month in Carrboro to raise money for Yarmolenko's memorial fund.