Thursday, December 31, 2009

Waco, TX: Ex-minister on trial in January in wife's death

Dec. 30, 2009, 10:17PM

WACO, Texas — A judge ordered two attorneys to continue representing a former minister charged with killing his wife and making her death look like a suicide.
The Waco Tribune reports the attorneys tried to withdraw as defense counsel Wednesday. They said "a serious and material breach of confidence has developed" between them and 38-year-old Matt Baker.
Baker is charged in the April 2006 death of his wife, Kari.
The 31-year-old elementary school teacher and mother of two was thought to have committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.
An indictment alleges Matt Baker gave her the pills and suffocated her with a pillow.
He has denied killing his wife. The murder trial is set to start Jan. 11.

Schiller Park, IL: Woman held on bond in Schiller Park shooting death

December 31, 2009 6:00 PM
A 46-year-old Schiller Park woman was ordered held on $750,000 bond today after she was charged with shooting her boyfriend in the head during an argument.

Grace Santiago, of the 9200 block of Susy Lane, was charged with murder in the shooting of Jorge Martinez Jr., 47, of the same address.

At a bond hearing in Rolling Meadows branch court today, Assistant State's Atty. Mike Clarke said the two were arguing when Martinez placed a handgun in Santiago's hand and told her she could prove how much she loved him by pulling the trigger.
The two continued to argue and Santiago told police she finally pulled the trigger "to end the abuse," Clarke said.

Santiago called 911 and Martinez was found on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood, Clarke said.
Martinez was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Santiago was taken into custody at the scene, authorities said.
-- George Houde

Hilo, HI: Friends, family gather to remember Medeiros

by Colin M. Stewart
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
Published: Friday, January 15, 2010 7:39 AM HST
Pastor praises efforts to raise awareness about domestic violence
Hope was the message friends, family and co-workers of Jolene Marie Medeiros shared as they gathered Thursday to remember her life and mourn her death.

To that end, speakers at her funeral service, held at Dodo Mortuary in Hilo, focused much of their attention on the good she had done both in life and in death, including spreading awareness of domestic violence and serving as an organ donor.

The 24-year-old KTA Super Stores cashier died Jan. 2, a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her estranged boyfriend and father of her two children. Harry Batalona Jr. died shortly after shooting Medeiros and then turning his gun on himself in the driveway of his parents' Hilo home on Dec. 30, according to police.

Medeiros' body lay in an open casket at the head of the chapel Thursday, draped by a laced veil and backed by a row of floral arrangements and photographs.

Among the arrangements was a large wreath with the words "Downtown KTA Ohana."

In his eulogy, pastor Allen Townsend of the Hilo Church of God announced that Medeiros was responsible for saving three lives after her death, donating her liver to an ailing pilot and her kidneys to two elderly grandmothers. Townsend also said that her heart valves were being preserved and there was a chance they could aid in saving the lives of babies or children with defective hearts.

"We celebrate and honor that," he said.

Townsend went on to congratulate the Medeiros family for their efforts to battle domestic violence in the wake of their loved one's death.

Click Photo to Enlarge
Harry Batalona Jr., left rear, and Jolene Medeiros, right rear, appear in this undated family photo with their children, Konan Batalona, 6, and Kaylee-Marie Batalona, 7. - Family Photo
"I have the greatest confidence in this family," he said. "I have seen the goodness of this family. When difficulty would have overwhelmed them, and despair would have seized the day, they have shown their goodness."

He thanked the family for wearing the purple ribbons of the anti-domestic violence movement, and for using the occasion of Medeiros' funeral to hand out fliers and business cards at the entrance to the chapel with information on how to deal with abusive relationships.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the service came as the 100 or so funeral attendees heard Medeiros' description of her own life, as read by her sister, April Medeiros.

While looking for her sister's birth certificate shortly after her death, April Medeiros said she discovered two essays written by Jolene Medeiros after she returned to school to pursue a nursing degree in 2008.

The first essay was a speech that she had given to her class about the importance of organ donation. April Medeiros said her sister had been excited after the speech, because several of her classmates had been convinced to become organ donors.

The second was an autobiography she had written for a communications class.

Wearing dark sunglasses and reading in hushed tones, April Medeiros made her way through the autobiography, at times taking short moments to compose herself after her voice quavered with emotion.

The essay was written simply, placing emphasis on important names and dates throughout her life, such as the day she met her best friend, Kauai, the days her two children were born, and the day she met Batalona in 2001.

"I was ordering french fries and a drink and he walked up to me," Jolene Medeiros wrote. "He took out a bunch of money and told me, 'I will buy you anything you want.' I told him, 'I can buy my own food, but thanks.'

"He then asked me for my number, but I turned around and there were a bunch of girls standing around a truck looking at us, so I told him, 'No. But if you give me your number, maybe I will call you.'

"Eventually, I called him one night when I was with a bunch of my friends drinking and our driver was too drunk to take us home. When he answered the phone I asked if he could pick up me and my friend Kauai and take us home and he said 'Yeah.' I liked that he didn't try anything, and we became friends.

"He later told me that he had a bet with those girls if he could get my number and lost."

The autobiography also recounted the time that she accepted a full-time job at KTA.

"When I accepted the position, there were a lot of unsatisfied employees that thought, 'Why did she get it, when I was working here longer?' Others had been there for four years.

"This was a really stressful time at work. There was a lot of people who were upset with me and thought I should have turned down the opportunity. But, I was only thinking about what was best for my children," she wrote.

As the funeral service came to a close, friends and family were invited to approach the casket and say their final good-byes. Bowed heads and slumped shoulders sidled along the front of the casket, and several visitors had to reach out for support from loved ones.

As attendees exited through the doors, they were greeted by a pair of photo montages to the right. Medeiros' face could be seen smiling as she interacted with friends, family, and her children, Konan and Kaylee-Marie.

At left was a memory board funeral attendees had littered with messages to Medeiros scrawled in white lettering on a black background. Little jokes, pleasant memories and wishes for a peaceful rest were jumbled together like so many pieces of a jijgsaw puzzle. Among them were the simple words, "Jolene, we love you."

E-mail Colin M. Stewart at

Police investigate attempted murder and suicide in Hilo

By Star-Bulletin staff

POSTED: 11:34 a.m. HST, Dec 31, 2009

A Hilo man died last night and his estranged girlfriend is hospitalized in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds in a case police have classified as an attempted murder and suicide.

According to Big Island police, South Hilo patrol officers were called to a reported shooting at the Manaolana Place home of 28-year-old Harry Batalona just after 7 p.m.

Emergency personnel took both people to Hilo Medical Center, where Batalona, suffering a gunshot wound to the head, was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, police said.

The woman, identified as 24-year-old Jolene Medeiros of a different Hilo address, arrived at the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds and was listed in critical condition, police said.

Police said Medeiros was Batalona's "estranged female companion."

Preliminary results of an autopsy this morning indicated that Batalona died of a single, self-inflicted gunshot to the head, according to police.

Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are investigating the case.

Wilmette, IL: Year in Review: Double murder-suicide jars community

December 31, 2009
The Wilmette community was shocked and saddened when a resident fatally shot his wife and stepson and then killed himself.

On Feb. 28, Kathryn Wiley-Motes and her 17-year-old son, Christopher Motes, were murdered at home by her husband, Richard Wiley. They lived on the 800 block of Greenleaf Avenue in a house next door to the First Presbyterian Church and owned by the church.

» Click to enlarge image

The North Regional Major Crimes Task Force responded March 2 to the murder-suicide discovered two days earlier in this Wilmette house on the 800 block of Greenleaf Avenue. Kathryn Wiley-Motes and her 17-year-old son, Christopher Motes, were murdered at home by her husband, Richard Wiley, who then took his own life. The house has since been torn down.
(Al Podgorski/Sun-Times Media)

• North Shore: Year in Photos

• Top stories of 2009: 2-10
• The Year in Sports
Wiley-Motes had worked in the church office for 11 years. Her son was a senior at New Trier High School and a history buff who participated in Civil War re-enactments. Wiley used Christopher's muzzle-loading Civil War replica shotgun to kill his family and himself.

The police found notes written by Wiley in the house, including one 40-page journal detailing his physical, mental health and financial problems.

Wiley had served 15 years in prison for fatally stabbing his previous wife. In 2001, a year after he was released from prison, he married Kathryn Motes in First Presbyterian, which they both attended.

The house where the family lived has been demolished. In its place, the church will build a fellowship garden for the public to enjoy, as a gesture of gratitude for the support the congregation received from all segments of the community, including other churches, neighbors, the Police Department and local businesses.

"We are not trying to erase a tragedy," said the Rev. Sarah Butter, the pastor of First Presbyterian. "We are trying to respond in a way that's faithful and transforming.

"We would like to create a community fellowship garden where people can come to relax and meditate and consider God's creation and each other's comfort."

Gilberts, IL: May trial date set for Gilberts man charged with killing girlfriend

December 31, 2009 1:20 PM | No Comments
A judge today set a May trial date for a Gilberts man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend after rejecting the man's bid to have his murder indictment dismissed.

Frank Hill, 32, is set to stand trial May 3 for the Jan. 9, 2007, murder of Karyn Pearson. Authorities allege Hill killed Pearson, 27, and then set a fire in the Gilberts townhouse they shared in an effort to cover up the crime.
Before setting the date, Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon shot down a motion filed by Hill that sought to have his indictment overturned. Hill said his rights were violated due to errors made by the lead police investigator in his 2007 testimony before the grand jury that indicted Hill for first-degree murder.

The investigator, Gilberts Police Sgt. Jack Rood, testified today that in one instance he was mistaken when he told the grand jury that police found a five-gallon gas can in the trunk of Hill's car, when in fact it was a one-gallon can.

The prosecutor called it an insignificant error.

"Is it really important if it was a one-gallon can or a five-gallon can when the fire was started with gasoline?" Assistant State's Atty. Greg Sams argued.

Hill's attorney, Kane County Public Defender David Kliment, argued that the gas can, as well as inconsistencies in Rood's testimony regarding Hill's whereabouts on the night of the murder had cumulatively violated Hill's right to due process and a fair trial.

The victim's mother, Mary Jo Pearson, testified at the hearing that Karyn Pearson had stayed with her the weekend before her death because Pearson and Hill were having issues in their relationship.

--Clifford Ward

Bothell, WA: Snohomish Co. deputy kills man in domestic dispute


BOTHELL, Wash. -- A Snohomish County deputy shot and killed a man during a domestic violence call early Thursday morning.

Police spokesman Sgt. Robert Goetz says a man, a woman and the woman's father were involved in an fight at a parking lot of an apartment complex near Bothell when deputies arrived at the scene.

He says some sort of further altercation ensued between the man and the two-year veteran deputy, prompting the officer to discharged his weapon, striking the man. The man's name or age was not released. He died on his way to the hospital.

Goetz says it's not clear what prompted the deputy to fire his weapon or if the man killed was armed. He says the woman's father had suffered a puncture wound to the face and was taken to the hospital. He says the woman, who is pregnant, was also taken to the hospital a precaution.

Canandaigua, NY: NY man convicted in wife's cliff death set free

The Associated Press

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — A former engineer who killed his wife by sending their minivan off a western New York cliff has been released from prison.

State Division of Parole officials say 50-year-old Walter Casper III was released Wednesday from a medium-security prison in northern New York.

Casper was initially convicted of murder in the July 1999 death of Catherine Bly-Casper. The 39-year-old woman was killed when the couple's minivan rolled off a 160-foot cliff in southern Ontario County as Casper jumped out.

Casper was sentenced to prison for 25 years to life but his conviction was reduced on appeal to manslaughter. He was resentenced to five years to 15 years.

Casper was scheduled for release in June 2010 but was freed early under a new state program for inmates who demonstrate good behavior.

Article: Domestic violence declines but crosses many boundaries

December 31, 2009
AS PEOPLE reflect on the scandals and successes of a year past, the edges tend to soften and details become blurred in their memory. Each New Year’s Eve, on this page, we remember people in Massachusetts who died due to domestic violence. It’s an opportunity to bow our collective heads at the needless loss. But we also hope to sharpen the blurry picture of domestic violence left by the statistics and news snippets that follow each crime. The people listed on this page, most killed by close family members or intimate partners, remind us that the cost of such violence is, above all, a human one.

Many domestic violence deaths adhere to commonly held stereotypes. Most victims - in the state and nationwide - are women, and nearly all who kill in such cases are men. But it’s not only certain types of people who are victims or perpetrators of such murders. The deaths in Massachusetts this year show that violence plagues many kinds of domestic relationships, including those between parents and children and those of the elderly.

The number of such homicides in the Commonwealth - 22 as of this week with a possible 23d, in Mattapan, still under investigation - has declined from 39 in 2007 and 28 in 2008, which may be a sign that awareness and enforcement of domestic violence are improving. Nevertheless, the names here suggest that families, communities, doctors, religious leaders, politicians, and law enforcement officials can still do more. They can identify abusers at high risk for committing homicide, intervene in cases of abuse and in the treatment of known abusers, protect victims, investigate dropped restraining orders, recognize and report domestic violence, and improve data collection and analysis.

In memoriam

Deaths in Massachusetts in 2009 due to alleged acts of domestic violence:

Robyn Lague Mendes, 49, New Bedford
Katherine Gomes, 61, of New Bedford
Arthur Martin, 49, Pittsfield
Luz Forty, 38, Dorchester
Jose Fuentes, 27, Haverhill
Penha Quiterio, 67, Ludlow
Priscilla Walker, 18 months, New Bedford
Priscilla Friberg, 72, Topsfield
Maryse Antoine, 46, Waltham
Silvia Rosa, 44, Leominster
Edilize Cruet, 16, Lawrence
Linda Auger, 42, Braintree
Julius Scott, 74, Dorchester
Yuliya Galperina, 42, Salem
Rebecca Moulton, 27, Pittsfield
Ana Cruz, 38, Springfield
Kaitlynn Griffin, 6, Mansfield
Nettie Becht, 36, New Bedford
Luis Diaz, 43, Dorchester
Mary Beaton, 33, Quincy
Giselle Rodriguez, 23, Clinton
Jane Wyman, 86, Newton

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sioux Falls, SD: Man pleads to manslaughter

Associated Press - December 30, 2009 4:35 PM ET

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A Sioux Falls man pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday in the beating death of his girlfriend last April in their apartment.

In return, prosecutors dismissed nine other charges against 29-year-old Michaele Ashko Shimayil.

Speaking through an interpreter, he told the judge he hit her with a length of PVC pipe but doesn't remember how many times after three or four swings.

Information from: Argus Leader,

Greenville, SC: Clinton man wanted in girlfriend’s stabbing found dead

By Paul Alongi
Staff writer

A Clinton man that authorities have wanted to question since his girlfriend’s death was found dead Wednesday in an abandoned fast-food restaurant in Naples, Fla., authorities said.

Leon Johnson’s body was discovered about 1:30 a.m. the day after Angela Vance, 42, was found with multiple stab wounds in his home at 505 Academy St., said Clinton Public Safety Director Stacy Drakeford.

Collier County sheriff’s investigators in Florida are working to determine the cause and manner of Johnson’s death, said Natalie Felber, a spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson, 50, was considered a suspect the Vance’s death, Drakeford said. She was from Clinton and worked for years in medical records at Laurens County Health Care System, said Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols.

The scene where Johnson’s body was found used to be a Burger King off U.S. 41 and East Davis Boulevard, Felber said.

Article: Philadelphia Faces Rising Domestic Violence Toll

Responding to a sharp increase in homicides stemming from domestic violence, the Philadelphia Police Department announced plans this week to change how officers handle domestic abuse cases.

While Philadelphia’s overall homicide rate has dropped about 9 percent and all violent crime in the city is down compared with this time last year, there have been 35 domestic homicides since January — a 67 percent increase from 2008. The police say two additional killings are still being investigated and are likely to be added to the tally.

“It’s something we have to confront because domestic violence homicide is a crime where you know who the perpetrator is and there are often warning signs that the crime is coming,” said Patricia Giorgio-Fox, the deputy policy commissioner.

She added that 21 of the 35 domestic homicide victims had made a total of 178 calls to the police, and some of the callers had restraining orders against the individuals suspected or convicted of killing them.

The new police protocol, which is still being adjusted, will involve better data so that officers know when they answer a call if there have been previous reports of domestic violence from the address and whether a restraining order has been obtained.

The increase in domestic violence in Philadelphia is mirrored nationally, and experts say it is linked, in part, to the recession. In fact, data indicate that domestic violence had been falling in the 15 years before the recession took hold last year.

In May, the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation released a study indicating that 75 percent of the nation’s domestic violence shelters have reported an increase in women seeking help since September 2008. The report also found that 73 percent of these shelters attributed this rise to financial issues.

Moreover, the increase has come as services for domestic violence victims have been cut.

“Domestic violence is up, and while the poor economy that helps drive the violence is still not rebounded, states are drastically slashing funding for domestic violence services,” said Sheryl Cates, chief executive of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a federally financed emergency hot line.

This year, California cut at least $2 million from the state budget that goes toward financing 94 domestic violence shelters and centers. California accounts for 13 percent of emergency calls, the highest of any state, according to the national hot line.

Legal aid financing in West Virginia has been cut this year by 62 percent, reducing services to help protect victims of violence, according to the National Organization for Women.

In Illinois, the legislature reduced financing for domestic violence programs by 75 percent, and scores of domestic violence shelters, sexual assault and other social service programs have been forced to cut staff, reduce hours and trim other services, the organization said.

In Philadelphia, the new efforts come on the heels of several highly publicized cases involving repeat offenders, including Willie L. Scott, who the police say shot and killed his former girlfriend in February in front of the couple’s 4-year-old daughter. The police had responded to at least 10 calls for help from the house since the start of 2008.

Federal data from the National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that domestic violence remained relatively flat from 2007 to 2008, but no numbers are available for this year.

In 2008, about 552,000 crimes were committed against women by their partners, compared with about 588,000 in 2007. The rate of such violence against women fell by about 53 percent between 1993 and 2008, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In recent years, states have experimented with different methods of dealing with repeat offenders.

At least a dozen states have begun using GPS technology to try to keep people involved in domestic violence or against whom there is a restraining order away from their current or former partners, according to the federal Electronic Monitoring Resource Center in Denver. Those states allow judges to order people to wear monitors that send a warning to the police and the victim when the individual enters an “intrusion zone” — a circle drawn around the victim’s home or workplace or her child’s school or day care center.

Commissioner Giorgio-Fox said the new regulations would take effect early next year. The policy will require police districts to keep their own detailed databases on domestic calls, indicating the nature of the call, whether a restraining order is connected to the address and whether the incident involves a repeat offender.

Dispatchers will be required to provide that data when an officer responds to a call. The department will also begin working more closely with city agencies and nonprofit organizations that offer counseling and shelters for domestic violence victims so that people with more training than the responding officers can arrive in emergency cases and try to persuade the victim to leave the premises, she said.

“All too often, officers arrive, hear from both sides and then we have little ability to convince the victim to leave,” Commissioner Giorgio-Fox said. “The next time we get the call, it’s often too late. So our officers need to be able to judge these situations better and earlier.”

Barclay Walsh contributed research.

Wilson, NC: 2 men, woman found shot to death in eastern NC

The Associated Press

Wednesday, December 30, 2009
WILSON, N.C. — Authorities in eastern North Carolina say a man shot and killed his former girlfriend and her new boyfriend before he fatally shot himself.
WRAL-TV reported that Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay is calling the murder-suicide near Wilson a domestic violence situation. He said the woman sought a restraining order against the suspect last year but never followed through.
Investigators said 24-year-old Paola Aguilera Ayala had returned home from her job Wednesday morning when her former boyfriend and another person drove up to her home in a pickup truck. They said the former boyfriend went into the house and killed Ayala's new boyfriend, chased the woman into an adjacent yard and shot her, then turned the gun on himself.
The sheriff's office is searching for the truck.
Information from: WRAL-TV,

Cahokia, IL: Cahokia teen charged in razor knife slashing death of his girlfriend


A 19-year-old Cahokia man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the slashing death Sunday of his teenage girlfriend.

Kyle R. Starks, of 401 St. Thomas Lane, is accused of using a razor knife in the killing 18-year-old Tyra Whittaker, of 5423 Rosemont Ave. in Washington Park. St. Clair County Coroner Rick Stone said Whittaker's throat was slashed and she bled to death.

Police Chief Richard Watson said investigators believe Whittaker was at 401 St. Thomas Lane, where Starks lived with his parents, to break off her relationship with him. The couple had been going together for a while, Watson said.

Police received a call at 9:39 p.m. Sunday to go to the residence. The caller, who police said was not the suspect, told police something tragic had happened.

Starks and Whittaker's body were both at the residence when police arrived. Whittaker was pronounced dead at 11:58 p.m. Sunday. Police led Starks away from the house in handcuffs.

The warrant charging Starks with first-degree murder accuses him of slashing Whittaker's neck. His bail is set at $1 million.

"These are two young people, good people, who've not been in trouble with the law," Watson said. "But there were some mistakes made here."

Asked whether Starks has shown any remorse, Watson said, "He has."

In regard to Whittaker's breaking off the relationship with Starks, Watson said, "I think they were talking about it that night."

Asked whether Starks had confessed, Watson said he was cooperating. He told reporters that "two families are tragically affected by this needless death."
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 239-2503.


By The Record
December 30, 2009
LATHROP - The husband of a Lathrop woman found stabbed to death in her home last week was arrested and is a suspect in her homicide, the Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Sherene Singh, 34, was discovered dead early in the morning last Wednesday by deputies called to her home, in the 500 block of Bramblewood Avenue.

The Sheriff's Office reported at the time that a man had been taken into custody at the home. He was carrying a knife and had self-inflicted knife wounds. A spokesman for the Sheriff's Office would not identify that man, saying he had not been arrested.

Detective Dave Konecny confirmed Tuesday that man was Baljit Singh, 36, the victim's husband.

Singh was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail, where he was being held without bail.

Waco, TX: Waco Man Pleads Guilty in Wife’s Beating Death

A Waco man pleaded guilty in district court on Tuesday to capital murder for the beating death of his wife
Reporter: Paul J. Gately
Email Address:
WACO (December 30, 2009)—Robert Chavira Espinosa will spend the rest of his life in prison after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to the May beating death of his wife.
Robert Chavira Espinosa, 29, avoided the death penalty on the capital murder charge by accepting the plea offer of life without parole.
Prosecutors told 19th State District Court judge Ralph Strother Espinosa used a hammer to bludgeon his estranged wife Rosario Moreno after he broke into her house in the 500 block of Proctor last May 11.
Neighbors found Moreno laying in a nearby front yard at about 2 a.m.
Moreno died at a local hospital on May 22.
Lead prosecutor Edward Vallejo said the McLennan County District Attorney’s office offered the plea deal based upon Espinosa’s criminal history and the trauma an extended trial might have caused his children, who were the only witnesses to the crime.
Vallejo said Moreno’s family was aware of the plea offer and agreed to the outcome.
The life sentence is virtually automatic in Texas on a capital murder charge when a plea is offered because in a plea deal the death penalty cannot be imposed.
Waco attorney Russ Hunt, said Espinosa was legally sane at the time of the offense but he does have other mental issues.

Spokane, WA: Brosnan pleads guilty in beating death of wife

Meghann M. Cuniff
The Spokesman-Review
Tags: Becky Brosnan spokane county superior court Uriah Brosnan
A Spokane man who killed his estranged wife, then impersonated her on MySpace to dupe family members into thinking she was still alive, faces about 18 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

Uriah J. Brosnan, 33, pleaded guilty to the Jan. 28 beating death of Becky Brosnan, 32, last week. The plea deal calls for him to serve 220 months, the high end of the standard sentence for second-degree murder, said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Love.

“I’m just glad we don’t have to put the kids through a trial,” said Tina Crone, Becky Brosnan’s stepmother. Crone is caring for the Brosnans’ children, ages 6 and 11. “It’s the easy way out for him, but what else is new?”

The Brosnans were married for about 10 years and had two children before a contentious divorce sparked the custody dispute that led to Becky Brosnan’s murder, according to court documents.

Detectives found her body Feb. 9 in a debris pile behind a roofing company where Uriah Brosnan worked.

His boss told police he’d stopped by the night of the murder but Uriah Brosnan hadn’t let him come inside the business office. Police found blood smears where Brosnan had dragged his wife’s body outside, according to court documents.

For nearly two weeks, Uriah Brosnan sent text messages from his murder victim’s cell phone and updated her MySpace page to make it appear that she was alive but wanted to be left alone.

On Feb. 2, for example, Becky Brosnan’s boyfriend, Daniel Bascetta, received a text message from her cell phone that said “she was remorseful for throwing away her marriage, that she still loved him (Brosnan) and that she was leaving town,” according to court documents.

Crone grew suspicious and called police Feb. 4. It wasn’t like Becky Brosnan not to call, and she certainly wouldn’t leave her two children with Uriah Brosnan and his girlfriend, Crone said in court documents.

The Brosnans were fighting bitterly over custody and had a history of domestic violence; they had agreed to meet the night of her death to discuss the custody battle, according to court documents.

Brosnan, who pleaded guilty Dec. 23, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 14 in Spokane County Superior Court.

He’s been at Spokane County Jail since Feb. 10.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Everett, WA: Everett man admits guilt in fatal shooting

By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer

EVERETT — An Everett man who told homicide detectives about a death pact he had with his girlfriend admitted Monday that he accidentally shot and killed the woman last year.

Donald Madsen, 63, faces nearly a decade in prison for the death of Pamela Placek, 52. Placek was found dead Sept. 24, 2008 inside a south Everett rental home the couple shared. Police believe Placek died immediately, shot in the face at close range.

Madsen told police the shooting was an accident. He told investigators he couldn't remember pulling the trigger but he realized his girlfriend had been shot and called 911.

Madsen on Monday pleaded guilty to first-degree domestic violence manslaughter with a deadly weapon. He admitted that he recklessly caused Placek's death. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

Madsen told detectives that the shooting happened while he was discussing a death pact with Placek. He told the detectives that he explained to Placek that the couple would be together forever. If one of them broke their vow, the other would be expected to load a specially painted bullet into a gun and shoot the other person.

Madsen said as he was trying to persuade Placek to agree to the pact when he grabbed a gun from the safe, court paper said.

He told investigators he didn't remember anything else, court papers said. He said he must have pulled the trigger.

Detectives found a .45-caliber handgun next to Placek.

Investigators learned that Madsen was an experienced and well-trained gun handler. He'd taken several gun classes and taught gun safety training. Detectives found numerous books about weapons in his home. They also learned that Madsen was a member of Boeing's gun club.

Madsen told investigators that he'd warned Placek to treat every gun like it was loaded, court papers said.

He speculated to detectives that he must have thought the gun was unloaded, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern wrote.

Madsen called his actions “total (expletive) idiocy,” court papers said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;
© 2009The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA

Little Black, WI: Woman, man found dead in Little Black home

Associated Press

3:57 PM CST, December 29, 2009


Authorities in Taylor County say a man and woman were found dead Tuesday in an apparent murder-suicide in the town of Little Black.

Officials say they were called to the home Tuesday morning after co-workers of the 48-year-old woman said she did not show up at work. Authorities entered the house and found two bodies.

They say it appears the woman died from blunt force injuries caused by the man. Sheriff's officials say the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Their names have not been released. Authorities say they had been married in the past, and living together since their divorce in 2008.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Laguna Woods, CA: A look back: Apparent murder-suicide in Laguna Woods

2009-12-29 10:26:03
LAGUNA WOODS-A 90-year-old retired doctor suspected of shooting his elderly wife in the head, died in October after shooting himself weeks prior.

Authorities believed Dr. James Clyde Fish turned a small-caliber pistol on himself after he killed his wife, Phyllis Fish, 88, because of her ailing health on Sept. 20. Fish remained in critical but stable condition until a couple weeks after the apparent murder-suicide in the Laguna Woods Village retirement community.

Fish became one of the oldest manslaughter suspects in the county.

Officials said Fish spoke to investigators and could move on several occasions after the shooting, but the 90-year-old man remained with a bullet lodged in his brain, according to an Orange County Register article.

Fish was transferred from Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo to a Los Angeles hospice before he was pronounced dead on Oct. 6, according to Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Salt Lake City, UT: Man pleads guilty to stabbing wife to death

December 29th, 2009 @ 4:07pm
SALT LAKE CITY -- A man accused of stabbing his wife to death this fall has pleaded guilty to murder.

Daniel Olivera was arrested in Salt Lake City in October when police found his estranged wife stabbed to death in front of her home.

As part of a plea deal, the judge dismissed other charges of aggravated assault and child abuse.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 22, and Olivera could get 15 years to life

Bay City, MI: Bay City woman kills husband during dispute

BAY COUNTY (WJRT) -- (12/28/09) -- Police in Bay City are investigating a murder after a man was found dead inside a home with multiple gunshot wounds.

Police say a wife shot and killed her own husband in 200 block of North Sheridan Street on the city's east side.

The Bay County woman has been placed behind bars in connection with the murder while detectives try and figure out what ultimately led her to pull the trigger.

Three of their four children home at the time. One of the children called 911

Police know there was some kind of an argument that led to the husband's death, but no one seems to know what it was.

It came as a big surprise to residents that a domestic disturbance turned deadly in their neighborhood.

"They found a male victim in the house along with a female suspect who was taken into custody," explained Sergeant Gordy Cameron with the Bay City police.

The Michigan State Police Crime Lab spent a good portion of Monday evening assisting local authorities with their investigation, hoping to find some clues to what went wrong.

Detectives believe an argument led to the husband's death - but officers still don't know what the couple was fighting over - three of their four children were home at the time - and heard the gunshots.

The wife is expected to be arraigned sometime on Tuesday. The victim's name should also be released at that time.

(Copyright ©2009 WJRT-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Article: For Lee County, SW Fla. battered, answers can mean life ... or death


Go to our page of in-depth coverage of this issue

Does your partner say, “If I can’t have you, no one will”?

Does your partner control your daily activities?

Has your partner been stalking, following or watching you?

These are some of the more than 20 questions Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputies and local Department of Children and Families investigators began asking this year to determine which domestic violence victims might be at high risk of being killed.

Those battling abuse at home would like to see Lee County authorities adopt the checklist, which is also called a lethality assessment.

“All professionals and people that deal with families need to be doing the lethality assessment,” said Cookie Coleman, who leads the local office of Department of Children and Families.
In September, her agency started using the checklist in five Southwest Florida counties for all cases in which family violence is alleged.
“A lot of times, making a difference is not some large, grandiose thing,” Coleman said. “It’s those little steps that can create awareness.”
Awareness is key. Asking the right questions, educating students about partner abuse, and wrangling interest in making domestic violence socially unacceptable are some solutions to halt partner violence, advocates said.
Though some people choose to ignore what happens behind doors, at a price of $8.3 billion a year, intimate partner violence’s social costs are steep.
That figure, which includes medical and mental health services and time lost at work, is likely underestimated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Along with splitting families, seeing violence between parents or caregivers is the strongest risk factor in molding a future abuser, studies show.
Domestic violence, in extreme cases, can end in death, orphaning children and leaving loved ones to forever grieve.
Sixteen victims have been killed in domestic incidents since 2008 in Lee.
Advocates would like to see the community take a proactive stance to rooting out violence at home, as child abuse was made unacceptable decades ago.
The problem is expansive. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“I believe domestic violence exists because we allow it to exist,” said Linda Oberhaus, executive director of the Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Naples.
She and other advocates would also like to see stiffer criminal penalties. First-time abusers who are arrested are often charged with a misdemeanor and quickly bail out of jail.
Cases often don’t move forward because victims won’t cooperate.

The checklist

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office began using the lethality checklist in July as part of the Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team, or INVEST.

Collier was selected by the state attorney general’s office for the roughly $142,000 grant to pay for the program through 2010.

It was one of six counties chosen this year because of its high rate of domestic-related homicides. It had five in 2007. In September, Mesac Damas, he confessed to killing his five children and wife, deputies said.

Eleven counties are in the program.

Collier Detective Nonnie Vaill reviews up to 50 domestic-related cases daily and the checklists that deputies are required to complete. She identifies high-risk cases.

The shelter then contacts the victim within 72 hours, said Natalie Quintero, the shelter’s INVEST advocate.

The shelter offers victims services when they’re more likely to sign on and help with safety planning.

In the past, the onus was often on the victim to follow through, which they may be less likely to do as the cycle of violence subsides.

“We’re reaching out and making contact to make sure they’re safe, and we offer them some options,” Quintero said.

The shelter contacted 90 people in November, and 15 victims signed up for the program since it began in July, she said.

The program also allows the swapping of information between the shelter, DCF and law enforcement. That can result in more services for victims and help to build prosecutions, officials said.

In January, DCF will work with Laura Streyffeler, clinical director at Abuse Counseling & Treatment in Lee, to develop a checklist that covers all categories of family violence such as, sibling abuse.

“We wanted to make sure we can include everybody,” said Kim Kutch, the local department’s operations manager.

Capt. Ron Curtis, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office major crimes unit, said the agency considered the program, but no money was available to start one.

“We will look at funding for the next fiscal year,” Curtis wrote in an e-mail.

DCF officials said running through the list requires no budget, but extra investigation time is needed. When asked why his agency couldn’t do that, Curtis said it will monitor the Collier program.

“If it is determined that the program is beneficial and delivers a higher level of service than we currently provide, then we will certainly look for the resources to start such a program,” he wrote.

Mental health pros

Law enforcers aren’t the only ones who need to be asking more questions, advocates said.

Less than half of licensed mental health professionals in Lee are consistently or properly checking clients for domestic violence, according to a 2008 study by Streyffeler.

“By not asking the questions, we’re turning domestic violence into a don’t-ask, don’t-tell problem,” she said.

Collaboration is another arena where officials and advocates are trying to tap solutions.

The Damas massacre pushed a handful of local leaders to meet monthly to better communicate between agencies battling family violence.

“This group gets together because we weren’t having that conversation,” said Jill Turner, who is CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center and joined the discussion. “Sometimes domestic violence or family violence gets lost in the shuffle. If we start asking in a more pointed way, I think we’d find more.”

Jennifer Benton, ACT’s executive director, aims to resurrect a dormant task force and a fatality review team.

“We’re trying to work with a lot of different people now, not that we didn’t before, but maybe a little more,” she said.

Coleman, also on the team, hopes the group can advance response, education and training.

“We all want to be on the same page,” she said.


Community education could offer answers. After a recent meeting with Benton, Lee Sheriff Mike Scott said he plans to promote awareness via Crime Stopper segments.
One tip after a segment on Fox 4 led to the December arrest of 33-year-old Tyrone Prescott, who is accused of strangling a girlfriend, law enforcers said.

Authorities said the agency could focus on domestic violence fugitives in its campaigns to track down criminals.

Abusers, advocates and survivors would like to see lessons on healthy relationships in schools.

“This is something that needs to involve prevention rather than trying to get girls out of it,” said Judy Massey, 43, of Cape Coral whose sister, Cindy Warner, was killed in a domestic violence case in January.

Massey is a survivor of an abusive relationship.

“They teach girls how to raise babies, but they don’t give you any heads-up on what to do in a situation like that. ... I didn’t know what to do, how to get out.”

Some advocates would like to see how to have a healthy relationship taught in schools.

ACT regularly makes presentations in schools — it does more than 900 of them a year throughout the community — but the agency doesn’t have the manpower to reach every classroom.

Christine Kobie, who leads youth outreach, would like to see children evaluated at school. Now, students are connected with counselors or agencies if they show signs or identify violence at home, schools officials said.

Joe Donzelli, Lee schools spokesman, said such education could be incorporated into its K-12 character education program that instructs against violence and teaches respect.

“If there are lesson plans that they would like to bring forward, I think staff would be willing to sit down with anybody.”

Healthy relationships, though, could be hard to teach, he said.

“It’s a very, very slippery slope in teaching kids the proper ways to do things. ... There are only so many hours in a day, so many weeks in a school year.”

But education should start at home, said Natalie Donigan, a leader with Lee’s NAACP.

“Tell your daughters, tell your sons that they’re valuable,” she said. “If you don’t, someone else will try to tell them that they’re not.”

Additional Facts
need help?
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office and local Department of Children and Families investigators use this questionnaire in domestic violence cases to assess whether victims run the risk of being killed if their abusive situations escalate.

• Has your partner ever physically harmed you? If yes, how often?
1-5 times 6-10 times 11 or more times
• Has your partner ever tried to strangle you?
• Have you ever been battered by your partner while you were pregnant?
• Has your partner ever threatened you with or used a weapon against you?
If yes, circle type of weapon: Knife Gun Other
• Has your partner ever held you against your will?
• Has your partner ever threatened to or harmed your pets/animals?
• Do you believe your partner will kill you?
• Has your partner ever told you how he/she plans to kill you?
• Has the physical harm become more serious over the past year?
• Has the physical violence been happening more often over the past year?
• Has your partner ever been Baker Acted or committed to a mental health facility?
• Have you recently separated from or talked about leaving your partner?
• Has your partner ever threatened or attempted suicide?
• Has your partner been stalking, following or watching you?
• Has your partner been violent toward or threatened to harm your children?
• Does your partner control all or most of your daily activities?
• Does your partner have a history of domestic violence against other partners?
• Is there a firearm in the house or accessible to your partner?
• Does your partner act out violently in front of others?
• Does your partner get drunk or high on a regular basis?
• Has your partner been significantly stressed lately (job loss, loss of loved one, recent arrest, etc.)?
• Is your partner violently and constantly jealous of you (i.e. does your partner say “If I can’t have you no one will”)?

Evant, TX: One dead, one in custody after shooting in Coryell County

Posted: Dec 29, 2009 12:05 AM EST
by Nate Bishop, Henry Rosoff & Ryan McCarthy

EVANT - Police are investigating the shooting death of a Coryell County man. The shooting occurred in Evant just before 9 o'clock Monday evening on the 200 Block of Putnam Street.

News Channel 25 was the only news crew on the scene.

Neighbors said they witnessed loud argument occurring between a woman and her ex-husband just outside her house. They went back inside and heard five gun shots in quick succession.

"It sounded like fireworks," one neighbor said.

The neighbors said they then rushed outside to see the ex-husband standing over the body of the victim, who is the ex-wife's boyfriend. Neighbors said the ex-wife and boyfriend lived together at the home with her two children.

The Coryell County Sheriff's Office confirms that the ex-husband shot the boyfriend, killing him. They would not identify anyone involved in the shooting, or comment further.

Eyewitnesses said the suspect then stood over the body looking shocked, before pulling out his cell phone and calling 911. They said he then moved his white SUV across the street, and walked away.

Authorities caught up with the man as he was walking down the block, and took him into custody.

Evant is a small community of about 400 people near the boarders of Hamilton and Coryell Counties.

"We didn't think it was anything at first," one neighbor said. "I mean it's Evant, nothing happens here."

News Channel 25 is following this story closely. Tune into Good Morning Texas starting at 5:30am. For the latest on this developing story.

Mattapan, MA: Woman, boyfriend found dead in Mattapan

By Richard Weir and Laura Crimaldi

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fearing the worst, a panic-stricken woman broke down the door of her sister’s Mattapan apartment yesterday morning and found her beloved sibling and her boyfriend dead in a macabre scene a police source called an apparent murder-suicide.

Neighbor Ashley James, 18, told the Herald yesterday that the slain woman’s sister had been trying desperately to contact her before she raced to the apartment at about 8 a.m. and made the gruesome discovery. James said they both called 911.

“I heard music last night,” said James, who noted it started at about 9 p.m. She was awakened in the morning by the sister’s loud bangs on the apartment door.

“The sister called this morning and (the boyfriend) answered the phone, but he would not put (her) on. Later, she kept calling and calling and calling, and nobody answered the phone. That’s why she came here,” James said.

Boston police responded to the fourth-floor unit at 50 Fairlawn Ave. in the Fairlawn Estates Apartments at 9:05 a.m. for a well-being check. They found a man and woman lying dead inside. Investigators believe it was a murder-suicide, a source told the Herald.

Police withheld the dead couple’s identities. The cause and manner of death are pending the outcome of the autopsies, police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.

“Preliminary investigation suggests that this was a domestic incident, and we are not looking for any additional suspects,” she added.

James described her neighbor as a quiet and pretty woman with light brown hair. For Christmas, she decorated her door with a “Merry Christmas” banner.

James said she’s never seen her neighbor’s boyfriend but often heard them arguing in Spanish and English.

“They had problems,” said James, adding the boyfriend did not live in the apartment. “They fought a lot.”

Lee Winston, 33, who lives on the basement level, said he told investigators he didn’t hear anything after he came home from church at 2:30 a.m. yesterday.

Winston said the four-story building is normally quiet and safe. Residents have to buzz in their guests.

Said Winston: “I’m not opening up the door for nobody.”

Bedford County, PA: Bedford County Woman Kills Husband With Knife

Craig Schaffer

A domestic disagreement between a Bedford County married couple ends with the husband being stabbed to death.

State police say an argument around 10:30 Sunday night at 213 Northwood Road in Clearville, Monroe Township between a husband and wife escalated to the point where Terri Showalter stabbed Gary Showalter in the chest, killing him.

Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins says alcohol was probably a factor in the incident. The Showalters had been married for eight years and officials say there had been no history of domestic violence.

Police say it was Terri Showalter who called 911 after the stabbing. She has been charged with Criminal Homicide, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, simple assault and two counts of aggravated assault.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Austin, TX: Man killed in officer-involved shooting

Posted on December 28, 2009 at 8:09 AM
Updated today at 4:56 PM
Austin police are investigating a deadly officer-involved shooting.
It happened shortly after 3:00 Monday morning at a house in the Olympic Heights neighborhood off Brodie Lane in South Austin.
Police Chief Art Acevedo says the department got a 911 call at 2:54 am from a woman who told officers she had locked herself in the bathroom at the house at 11800 Johnny Weismuller. Police say she was whispering and reported a domestic disturbance between herself and her boyfriend.
“The (boyfriend) had been distraught according to the girlfriend, for the last day or two” said Chief Acevedo.
Two Travis County sheriff's deputies were nearby and responded first. A few minutes later APD officers arrived.
“This is something we commonly do. We work in close jurisdiction with one another and we back each other up at all times. It is what we do. It is our job to protect the community,” said Cpl. Art Cardenas of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
The officers and deputies met with the woman who was out of the house by that time. She told officers there was a rifle in the house.
Police say they knocked on the door and asked the suspect to come out.
When he did, 11 minutes after the 911 call, police say he had a chrome revolver in his hand and pointed it at the officers.
One of the Travis County deputies and an APD officer fired their guns, shooting and killing the suspect.
“When somebody points a handgun at you, you have a second to make a decision. You use deadly force when deadly force is presented,” said Chief Acevedo.

Chief Acevedo says the officers immediately began administering CPR. EMS crews took over several minutes later when they arrived. The suspect did not survive.
“Unfortunately, when you’re confronted with an armed suspect with a handgun that’s pointing it to you in a threatening manner, and the suspect refuses to drop the weapon, you have a choice to make and sadly, a family lost a loved one,” said Chief Acevedo.
The suspect’s mother spoke with KVUE News.
“This is one of the worst days of my life,” said Brenda James.
James says her son, Roger Tyrone James, turned 38 years old on Sunday.
“Roger was a good child. One of the best kids I ever had,” said James, “I just don’t know how I’m going to go home without him. They did not’t have to do that to him. They just didn’t have to do it.”
Chief Acevedo and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office say dashboard cameras inside the patrol vehicles were activated during the shooting.
Chief Acevedo confirms there is audio of the entire incident. It remains unclear how much video the cameras captured.
“Because of the nature of the incident, where it was at the front door of a house, right outside of a house, more than likely the cameras aren’t facing the house,” said Chief Acevedo.
Five agencies are investigating this shooting including the Austin Police Monitor, the Travis County District Attorney's Office, the Travis County Sheriff's Office, the Austin Police Department and Texas Rangers.
“We will make sure that a thorough and complete investigation is done in the interest of justice,” said Cpl. Cardenas.
Chief Acevedo says the department is investigating this officer-involved shooting under the new policies and procedures the department unveiled earlier this month.
The Texas Rangers are involved as part of protocol with any deputy related shooting from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
The names of the deputy and officer involved in the shooting have not been released.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office says the deputy is an eight year veteran with Travis County S.O.
Chief Acevedo says the officer involved is a two year veteran with APD. He is on paid administrative leave which is normal procedure.

Temple, TX: Survivor Of Deadly Christmas Day Shooting Remains In Critical Condition

A 42-year-old Temple woman who survived a Christmas Day shooting that left an Austin man described as a longtime friend dead was still in critical condition Monday after undergoing surgery.
Reporter: By Bernadette Flores
Email Address:

Kim Treacher
TEMPLE (December 28, 2009)—Kim Michelle Treacher, 42, who was badly wounded in a Christmas Day shooting that left Mark Allen Gibbs, 43, of Austin dead, underwent surgery Monday to remove blood from her lungs, her sister Malory Branch said.

Treacher remains in critical condition at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Branch said.

Her estranged husband, Jack Treacher, 55, of Universal City, is charged with murder and aggravated assault in the shooting.

His bonds total $1 million.

The shooting was reported at about 11 p.m. on Christmas Day in the 4900 block of Midway Drive in Temple.

When officers arrived, they found Jeffrey Treacher sitting on the front porch of the home that his estranged wife and her sister shared.

Branch said Monday she was not home at the time of the shooting.

Gibbs, who was described as a longtime friend of Kim Treacher’s, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said it appears that the gunman forced the front door of the house open, but then entered the rear of the home and shot Treacher and Gibbs with a handgun, police said.

Then, police say, the man called 911 and waited for officers to arrive.

St. Johnsbury, VT: Woman dead, husband suspected in St. Johnsbury homicide.

Free Press Staff Report

ST. JOHNSBURY -- A St. Johnsbury woman is dead, and her estranged husband is hospitalized after a Monday morning incident police are calling a homicide.

Anna Berwick, 45, was found unresponsive just before 10 a.m. in the parking lot of Green Mountain Mall. Rescue personnel responded and determined the victim to be deceased, her death a "result of a violent act," a police news release said.

Shortly after, Ben Berwick, 49, Anna Berwick's estranged husband, emerged from woods behind the mall. Ben Berwick was suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ben Berwick was transported to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, and later to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. He is listed in stable condition.

Police said the couple has been separated and this month, Anna Berwick was granted a temporary restraining order against her husband.

Anna Berwick's body was transported to the Chief Medical Examiner's office at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington to determine the cause and manner of death.

Houston, TX: South Texas Prison Guard Sought for Murder

A South Texas state prison guard is the subject of a manhunt after witnesses say he murdered his wife and mother-in-law
ROSENBERG (December 28, 2009)—South Texas lawmen are searching for a Texas prison guard whom they say stabbed and killed his wife and mother-in-law as children watched.

Rosenberg police Lt. Colin Davidson says Albert James Turner, 44, is wanted for murder in the incident that erupted in the Houston suburb after a Sunday argument at his in-law’s home turned violent.

Dead are Turner's 39-year-old wife, Keitha Frank Turner,
and her mother, 66-year-old Betty Jo Frank.

The Houston Chronicle reported Turner was identified as the suspect by eyewitnesses, including a child who called 911.

The sound of children screaming can be heard in the background on
the tape.

Turner could be headed to the Orlando, Fla., area, where he has family, police say.

Rockford, IL: Police Deadly Force OK’D in Illinois Daycare Shooting

Grand Jury Returns” No indictment”

Last Updated Dec 2009
Printer Friendly Version
By AFRO Staff

In this September 3 file photo, a photograph of Mark Anthony Barmore sits among flowers next to his casket at his funeral at Kingdom Authority International Ministries in Rockford, Ill. Barmore, 23, was fatally shot by two police officers inside a church-run daycare filled with children on August 24. (AP Photo)
(December 27, 2009) - The NAACP, Rev. Jesse Jackson and the family of a victim fatally shot by police are fighting against a Winnebago County, Illinois grand jury’s decision to exonerate the police action in the August 24 fatal shooting of Mark Anthony Barmore.

Barmore was chased by police into a daycare center in a church basement and shot by two police officers, though he was unarmed. The police pursued Barmore in connection with a domestic dispute involving his girlfriend.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced the grand jury’s decision at 10 p.m. on Dec. 23, according to local TV station WREX, and said the grand jury’s findings were consistent with the findings of the Illinois State Police’s investigation and that of the Rockford Police Department, where the officers involved are employed.

But civil rights leaders question several things about the grand jury’s evaluation, including the timing of its decision, just two days before Christmas, when the only two eyewitnesses to the shooting besides the officers involved were unavailable. As a result, the grand jury didn’t hear their testimony.

According to WREX and the Rockford Register Star, local officials said those witnesses – Sheila Brown, director of the day care center, and her daughter Marissa Brown, 17 – did not give accounts consistent with the physical evidence of the crime and would not speak to the state police during their investigation.

But those statements are countered by Pastor Melvin Brown, Sheila’s husband. According to the Rockford Register Star, Brown said that two interviews with the state police had been cancelled by the police, and that his family’s subpoena for the grand jury arrived only six days before they were to appear. He said they had not been informed that a grand jury might be convened and at the time the subpoena was received, there was no way to change or cancel a holiday trip.

“To make it December 23, the day before Christmas Eve, is more like manipulation than truth," said Rev. Jackson during a press conference on December 26. “We can live with a fair outcome, but you must have all the ingredients to have a fair outcome.”

The NAACP, in a December 24 statement, said, “The Rockford, Illinois Branch of NAACP, along with community leaders, faith leaders and concerned citizens in the State of Illinois, have formed a coalition which is calling for an independent investigation by the US Department of Justice through the US Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois into the incident.”

“It is a sad day in this country when two police officers with guns drawn can charge into a church daycare center, terrorize children and staff and fatally shoot an unarmed man in the back with impunity,” Benjamin Jealous, NAACP president and CEO, said in the December 24 statement.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gladwin, MI: Man jailed without bond in wife's June deat


Associated Press

4:00 PM CST, December 27, 2009


A northern Michigan man has been arrested in connection with the June death of his wife on the couple's farm.

The Bay City Times says 56-year-old Stanley E. Strobel will be arraigned Monday.

Authorities arrested Strobel on Thursday in Clarkston after Gladwin County Prosecutor Aaron Miller authorized an open count of murder in the death of 52-year-old Diane R. Strobel.

Stroble is being held without bond at the Gladwin County Jail.

Investigators initially attributed Diane Strobel's June 4 death to a farm accident.

After her death, Strobel called 911 and said he had found his wife trapped beneath a front-end loader at the couple's farm near Dutcher.


Information from: The Bay City Times,

Canton, OH: Three found shot to death in apparent murder-suicide in Jackson Twp. home

By Benjamin Duer staff writer
Posted Dec 27, 2009 @ 11:27 AM
Last update Dec 27, 2009 @ 03:27 PM
Police are investigating an apparent double murder-suicide Sunday.

Dead are Brandy L. Schneider, 32, of 6686 Ravenwood Ave. NW and her ex-husband, Matthew A. Schneider, 30, of 805 Applegrove St. NW, North Canton. Derrick W. Busto, 29, of 1257 Bellflower Ave. SW, Canton, also died.

Police found the three bodies around 7:58 a.m. in the Ravenwood duplex, just south of Portage Street NW, in Spenbrock allotments. A relative of Matthew Schneider’s found the bodies and called 911, Chief Harley Neftzer said.

All three died as the result of gunshot wounds.

Neftzer said preliminary information indicates Matthew Schneider went to his ex-wife’s residence and shot her and Busto. He then killed himself. Two handguns — both were used — were recovered at the scene, Neftzer said.

“We believe its a double murder-suicide,” confirmed Rick Walters, an investigator for the Stark County Coroner’s Office.

Neftzer would not confirm if a suicide note was left behind.

Neftzer said the case remains under investigation pending a comprehensive coroner’s review, processing of evidence collected at the scene and completion of the criminal investigation.

Peoria, AZ: Peoria man arrested in wife's stabbing death

Associated Press - December 27, 2009 3:54 PM ET

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Authorities say a Peoria man has been arrested for allegedly killing his wife.

Peoria police say their received a 911 call late Saturday night concerning a family fight. When they arrived at the home, they found a woman in the upstairs bedroom woman with multiple stab wounds.

They say 46-year-old Maricela Noriega was taken to a hospital, where she later died.

Police on Sunday arrested her 42-year-old husband - Julian Noriega - and say he has been booked him into jail on a charge of second-degree murder.

Article: Covina Police created blueprint for investigations following Covina murders

By Amanda Baumfeld, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/26/2009 06:05:47 AM PST

Covina Holiday Murders
Covina Holiday Massacre special section

COVINA - The actions the Covina Police Department took in its investigation of a mass murder that left nine people dead on Christmas Eve 2008 have become a blueprint for area police agencies.

The department's eight detectives and two detective supervisors led the city's most high-profile and horrific murder investigation to date. It involved hundreds of hours of work and interviews throughout Los Angeles County and the collection of more than 200 pieces of evidence.

On top of that, the department immediately worked toward healing the community. Detectives brought in counselors to help the shaken neighborhood. They hosted a large community meeting and remained a presence on the street for two weeks after the tragedy.

"A lot of departments would say we know who did it, our job is done but what Covina did is to comfort the community," West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills said.

"They realized there was a lot of questions about background, impact on the neighbors and Chief (Kim) Raney and the men and women of the department just stepped up. It's a lesson for all of us."

Pasadena police Lt. John Dewar agreed.

"I think the response from the community support really played out in favor of this case," Dewar said. "It really is important that a community doesn't go it alone."

What the Pasadena Police Department really took away from the incident was a re-examination of the severity of domestic violence.

"I think


it impacted a little bit the way we look at domestic violence," Dewar said. "It's a problem and until we look at it in a really broad holistic sense we won't solve the violence that can happen inside families."
Nine members of the close-knit Ortega family died on Christmas Eve 2008. They were identified as Sylvia Pardo; her parents, Joseph and Alicia Ortega; brothers James and Charlie Ortega; their wives, Cheri and Teresa; her sister Alicia Ortiz; and Alicia's 17-year-old son, Michael.

Their killer, Sylvia's estranged husband Bruce Pardo, 45, of Montrose, arrived at the Knollcrest home dressed as Santa Claus. He systematically executed several family members before his homemade flamethrower exploded.

Pardo later killed himself at his brother's Sylmar home.

Covina police Chief Raney said there was no other way to cover a similar incident other than through community outreach.

"The fact that the crime scene investigation was done there was no way we were going to leave that neighborhood," Raney said. "I think it sent a message, `we are here with you and we are not leaving you."'

While it may serve as a blueprint to departments, utilizing officers to participate in community healing was made possible because the only suspect was dead.

"It takes a lot more had it been a whodunnit," said Gil Carrillo, a retired Los Angeles County homicide detective. "Where you don't know and don't have a suspect it's a lot more intense and a lot more you have to do."

The 38-year veteran of the department said in the world of homicides, Covina's investigation was "relatively simple," since Bruce Pardo was already dead.

"Covina did an exceptional job," Carrillo said. "They don't get this on a daily basis."

In 2007, Covina saw seven homicides, in 2008 they had 10, nine of which occurred on Christmas Eve. This year they have had four, according to Lt. Tim Doonan.

In April, Covina detectives received the "Robert Presley Institute of Criminal Investigation Award for Investigative Excellence." The ICI is a branch of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

The Independent City Association has invited the department to talk about their investigative efforts at cities throughout Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

"We talk about our experience and things we think we did well and things we learned from it," Raney said. "Whatever the next tragedy is in Southern California cities can pull in from other experiences."

626-962-8811, ext. 2108

Article: Domestic violence afflicts Lee County Attacks result in death, bloodshed; what we hear about is just the beginning


Three months ago, Southwest Florida reeled from one of its most brutal acts of domestic violence when a man confessed to slitting the throats of his wife and five children.

Authorities found Guerline Damas and her children dead in their Collier County home after her family filed a missing person's report.

Days later, Marta Torres, who had fled Fort Myers to Ocala to escape her husband, begged for her life before he gunned her down in the parking lot of her workplace.

The bloodshed was not isolated.

Sixteen victims have lost their lives to domestic violence in Lee County since 2008, according to law enforcement records and The News-Press archives. In 2007, five people were killed.

Last year, Lee tallied the largest number of domestic violence killings in more than 15 years. It vied with Palm Beach County - double its population - to rank the fourth highest in the state, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data. Eleven people were killed in 2008.

This year, there have been five deaths in Lee, including three in Cape Coral.

The attacks in homes persist. This month, a Lehigh Acres man shot and critically injured his wife.

"We're seeing more severe cases than normal staying in our shelter," said Jennifer Benton, executive director of Abuse Counseling & Treatment, which serves Lee County.

Its 91 shelter beds in Fort Myers and Cape Coral have been mostly full since May.

"We see very few victims that actually think they would get killed," she said.

The state attorney's office in Lee receives about 40 new domestic violence misdemeanor cases each week, but many victims choose not to go forward with cases that are hard to prove without their help. More than half of a year's sample of Lee felony cases stamped as domestic violence couldn't be prosecuted because of uncooperative victims.

"The nature of domestic violence is different than a lot of crimes. It takes place in the home and without other witnesses," said Paul Poland, assistant state attorney over the misdemeanor division.

"Our cases rely completely on the willingness of the victims."

For those who have lost loved ones to violence at home, the grief has seared deep. Their lives are forever changed, becoming the forgotten victims.

"That happens to other people. It just can't happen to me," said Vicki Shephard, 47, of Vermont.

Her 27-year-old daughter, Shannon Sweet, was found dead in March in Cape Coral.

Authorities suspect her boyfriend, Matthew Gullett, strangled her.

Counseling hasn't helped. There are days Shephard would rather not wake up if that meant she'd be reunited with her daughter.

"You don't go a day without thinking about it," she said.

Cases continue

Domestic violence is more widespread than reported in headlines. It simmers to a boil behind many closed doors.

"The propensity for such a relationship to end in murder is very high," Lee sheriff's Capt. Ron Curtis wrote in an e-mail.

It's a misdemeanor when it doesn't involve weapons or doesn't rise to serious injury, Poland said. In a one-year period, Lee counted at least 1,400 such cases.

ACT saw a 136 percent swell in clients, including victims and abusers, from 2005 to 2008. The shelter also expanded in that time.

Through September of this year, ACT had served more than 5,000 clients.

Few punished

There are several barriers to punishing the guilty.

Sometimes, an abuser is not arrested, said Pat Tracy, a therapist who leads groups for abusers offered by ACT. Men have told him that there were times they should have gone to jail but didn't because they were calm and polite when police arrived.

Tracy understands it's difficult for law enforcers to sort out cases but believes arrests should be made. Survivors said that they have lied to authorities to protect their abusers.

Poland said abusers rarely see jail for a misdemeanor.

Even with felonies, Kelly Worcester, supervisor of the state's felony division, said many victims would rather see abusers take classes or treatment than face jail.

"Nobody has the right to put their hands on you," she said, "and it's amazing how many people don't agree with that."

Maureen Tomlinson, a 46-year-old planning designer in Lee, believes the system is not set up to fully protect victims.

A dog, an alarm system, and baby powder she sprinkles on the attic steps to detect whether the door has been disturbed, do not make her feel safe.

Her ex-boyfriend was convicted of felony assault and child endangerment, she said. Worried he will find her, she's never filed for child support and wishes she could wipe her address from the county's property appraiser site.

"Forget the restraining order. Get out and move," she said. "It's not easy, but your life will never be easy again."

Finding help

Those working in the domestic violence field say services are solid, though they could always use more. The hardest part is linking people to them.

Only a quarter of all physical assaults and one-fifth of rapes against women and girls by partners are reported to police, says the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Benton, the head of ACT, said many victims who were murdered in Lee did not seek help. There's denial as well as shame in exposing private pain.

"They have that victim mentality that I deserved this. Sometimes, it takes months to uncover," said Rosemary Boisvert, transitional living center director at the Southwest Florida Addictions Services.

SWFAS works closely with ACT because drugs or alcohol can accelerate or exacerbate abuse.

Little outrage

Apathy about domestic violence still pervades society, some say. People can see it as a private matter.

"Crime prevention is everybody's responsibility," said Fort Myers police Chief Doug Baker. "If you see something and it's not right, report it."

Domestic violence is not an issue that's garnered a groundswell of interest in halting it. There's misunderstanding.

Palm Beach, FL: The decade: Fred Keller convicted of killing ex-wife Rosemarie, but case took years in courts

Daily News Staff Writer
Saturday, December 26, 2009

At the beginning of the decade, most Palm Beachers didn't know Fred Keller.

But from the day he shot and killed his ex-wife on Nov. 10, 2003, he became ongoing headline news.

It took two felony murder trials and three civil trials to sort through the complicated tale of the May-December romance that turned deadly.

In May 2007, Keller was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting death of his 34-year-old, fifth ex-wife, Rosemarie "Rose" Keller, and the wounding of her brother, Wolfgang Keil.

Keller's first trial, in February 2005, ended in a mistrial, with a deadlocked jury favoring conviction.

Keller, 73, of Palm Beach, died of leukemia Aug. 25, 2007 — less than two weeks before a restitution hearing at which he stood to lose his multimillion-dollar fortune to his victims.

A trilogy of civil trials followed involving Keller's multimillion-dollar estate. It reached resolution in May 2008 with his then-13-year-old son, Fred "Fredchen" Keller Jr., receiving the largest settlement of $30 million. Also included in the global settlement was $5.5 million for shooting victim Keil and $4.8 million for the estate of Rosemarie Keller.

The lakefront Keller estate, at 1480 N. Lake Way, was broken up and sold in two separate deals. One lot, measuring just under a half-acre and with 105 feet of lake frontage, was sold in July for $3.67 million. The second, just under 1 acre and with 175 feet of lake frontage and a small beach, was sold in August for $5.73 million.

Ogden, UT: Couple found dead in Ogden home

By Reporter
Deseret News
Published: Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009 11:39 p.m. MST

OGDEN — An Ogden woman apparently shot her terminally ill husband to death before turning the gun on herself Friday.

Ogden police are investigating what appears to be a murder-suicide after a family member stopped by their home twice and got no response at the door on Christmas Day.

The family member called police, who went into the home and found the two people.

Robert Stom, 65, had terminal health problems and died of multiple gunshot wounds, said Ogden Police Lt. Marcy Korgenski. His wife, Patricia Stom, 70, also appeared to have died of a gunshot wound.

Autopsies were performed Saturday and detectives are in the process of investigating, Korgenski said.

— Joseph M. Dougherty

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Darby, PA: Philadelphia pastor shoots son to death during Christmas dispute

DARBY,Pa.--- A family gathering turned deadly when a Philadelphia pastor shot his son to death during a domestic dispute Christmas Day.
Darby Borough police say it all started with a violent confrontation between Jordan Caldwell, 21, and a female at the pastor's home on Ridge Avenue.
Around 1:30 p.m. Jordan's father Rev. Kirk Caldwell interceded by shooting his son in the chest, killing him.
"I characterize this whole thing as a domestic situation, it was Christmas and the family was home when an altercation happened between him and the girlfriend," said Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe. "We're in the process of picking apart exactly what happened."
The 44-year-old pastor at End Times Harvest Mission in North Philadelphia has been arrested and taken into custody.
Delaware County officials were still debating last night what charges to file.
The weapon used in the altercation was legally registered to Caldwell.
In July, after a 17-year-old was killed in the borough, Kirk Caldwell attended a vigil and said, according to the Delaware County Daily Times, "Retaliation is never the answer. Retaliation is only going to make it worse."

Bozeman, MT: Man wants evidence of possible killing tossed out

BOZEMAN — A 38-year-old Bozeman man accused of shooting his former girlfriend and burning her body in a barrel is asking a judge to toss out evidence and some of his statements to investigators on the day of his arrest.

Jay. J. Myran filed the motion in Gallatin County District Court, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported on Friday.

Myran in July pleaded not guilty to charges of deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the death of 53-year-old Gayle Brewster of Three Forks.

Authorities arrested Myran on June 9 after discovering Brewster’s remains in a burn barrel near the house she had been renting. Brewster had been missing since May 12.

Myran argues that the property manager did not have the right to give law enforcement agents permission to search the property, and that he was denied an attorney.

Myran is being held at the Gallatin County Detention Center on $1 million bail.

Tomball, TX: Suspect Dies after Threatening Deputy Constable

TOMBALL, Texas - A man, who investigators say shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend, was shot by a Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constable and later died at a Hospital.

Investigators say a woman contacted Precinct 4 after 3 a.m. Saturday when her ex-boyfriend, 27-year-old Jason Turner, caused a disturbance and broke her window. The woman also said that Turner drove away in a white Ford F-250 pickup truck.

As a deputy constable drove to the woman's home at the 11700 block of Spring Path Court in northwest Harris County, he found Turner allegedly driving the pickup truck at a high rate of speed through the woman's subdivision.

The deputy chased after Turner's truck until Turner stopped the truck in the street in front of his ex-girlfriend's home. Investigators say Turner jumped out of the truck, ran with a pistol to the woman's front door and fired several gunshots through the door. Turner's ex-girlfriend was wounded as a result of the shooting.

After allegedly shooting at the door, Turner walked back to the street and verbally threatened to shoot the deputy constable unless the deputy killed him first.

Despite warnings from the deputy constable, Turner refused to drop his pistol and lay on the ground. A female who visited the home ran to the street and caused Turner to threaten her and the deputy constable.

The deputy shot Turner several times which caused Turner to be wounded.

Turner's ex-girlfriend was taken by ambulance to Ben Taub General Hospital in stable but serious condition. Turner was taken by ambulance to the same hospital where he later died.

The deputy constable was struck with glass fragments but was treated for his injuries.

The case of the shooting will be presented to a Harris County grand jury after an investigation is completed by the Harris County Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

South Haven, MI: South Haven poilce say woman killed her ex-boyfriend

By Gabrielle Russon | Kalamazoo Gazette
December 26, 2009, 10:58AM
• This story was originally published in the Kalamazoo Gazette on Dec. 25, 2009.

SOUTH HAVEN — Police said Thursday they believe a 43-year-old South Haven woman stabbed and killed her ex-boyfriend who was trying to rob her.

Police have not released the name of the man or the woman, who has not been charged by authorities.

Around midnight Wednesday, the woman reported the 49-year-old man was trying to rob her of about $700 at her home in the 300 block of Lyons Street, authorities said.

The two got into a fight at the house, and the woman stabbed the man twice in the upper left chest with a kitchen knife, said Sgt. Patrick Carlotto, of the South Haven Police Department.

The man then took the woman’s red GMC Envoy and drove erratically down the street. He came to a stop about 100 yards from the residence. The woman called police, who found the man and tried to help.

The man later died at South Haven Community Hospital.

Carlotto would not release the man’s name because his family was still being notified Thursday evening. The man was a former South Haven resident, he said.

The woman was questioned by police and released pending a review by the Van Buren County Prosecutors office, according to the release.

Tom Martin, South Haven’s acting police chief, said Thursday night that his agency will be preparing the case through the first part of next week.

Contact Gabrielle Russon at or (269) 388-8412. Aaron Aupperlee can be reached at or (269) 388-8553.

Los Angelos, CA: Murder Charge Filed Against Man In Stabbing Death


Trust Fund Established For 6-Year-Old Boy, Family
A murder charge was filed Thursday against an East Los Angeles man accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend, whose body was found in her car in Reseda.

Fredy Hernandez, 30, was expected to be arraigned late Thursday afternoon in Van Nuys Superior Court on the murder charge, with an allegation that he used a deadly and dangerous weapon, an ice pick, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Hernandez faces a maximum prison term of 26 years to life if convicted. Prosecutors were recommending that bail be kept at $1 million.

Hernandez allegedly confronted Doris Salguero, 24, of Reseda, following a holiday gathering. He is accused of stabbing her multiple times in the chest and back.

Salguero's body was discovered in the back seat of her car about 1:20 p.m. Sunday near Leadwell Street and Shirley Avenue, about three blocks from her home.

The victim's relatives contacted police Sunday because they were concerned when she failed to return home from a Christmas party in Carson on Saturday night. Police said Salguero and Hernandez were among those who attended the party, which was a gathering for Amway employees.

"The motive for this murder appears to be that Miss Salguero refused to reconcile with the suspect," LAPD Capt. John Egan said earlier. Egan said the murder weapon had not been located and may have been discarded alongside a freeway.

Salguero leaves behind a 6-year-old son named Erik.

"She had family who loved and cared for her, and here we are in the holiday season," Egan said previously. "It's just hard to imagine the agony that that family must be going through and the agony that her son, Erik, is going to be going through."

A trust fund was established at First Commerce Bank in Encino to assist the family.

Casey County, KY: One dead, two hurt in shooting Two people are hurt and another is dead after a shooting in Casey County

Updated: 11:13 PM Dec 25, 2009

Posted: 6:18 PM Dec 25, 2009
One dead, two injured in shooting

Two people were hurt and another is dead after a shooting in Casey County.

It happened at Down Home grocery store in Kings Mountain near the Casey-Lincoln County line.

Family members say it's the result of a relationship with a long history of problems.

Authorities say the events leading up to the shooting began at the store around 9 Christmas morning..

59 year-old Marshall Ray Brown allegedly showed up the first time and tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend and store owner, Wilma Rice. However authorities say the gun didn't fire, and he left.

Rice and her family went to police, who began searching for Brown but didn't find him.

Then just before 2 in the afternoon, the family was loading up the car with food for their holiday dinner, when they say Brown returned.

"He was standing in these bunch of trees.. all at once was a gunshot," Rice's father, Hurshel Padgett said, "My daughter fell to the ground and I happened to see blood coming from her neck, it frightened me nearly to death."

Rice's neice, 24 year-old Catherine Ping, was also shot.

Authorities say Brown then took off on foot, and shot and killed himself just down the road.

Family members say he and Rice had recently broken up, and there had been problems.

"She had tried to get an EPO on him before but they wouldn't let her because he hadn't been violent," said Rice's sister, Connie Gonzalez.

"I just thank the lord that they're all right, but I am sorry this man killed himself," Padgett said.

Family members tell us Rice has injuries to her ear and neck, and Ping was injured on her face, arm, and chest.

They were treated and released from the hospital.

Article: Brutality, domestic violence up during recession-plagued 2009

By STEVEN ELBOW | The Capital Times | | Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2009 5:30 am

Attacks by two men that left four dead and three injured capped an ugly year for domestic violence victims, who advocates say have been subjected to higher levels of brutality during a recession-plagued 2009.

On Dec. 3, police say Tyrone Adair, 38 and out of work, killed his girlfriend, Tracy Judd, and their 23-month-old daughter. Then, police say, Adair shot former girlfriend Amber Weigel and their 2-year-old daughter to death before turning a gun on himself.

The killings followed the shootings on Nov. 28 of Zenolia Rice, her 8-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, who all survived despite the fact Rice was shot multiple times and the children were each shot in the head. Rice’s partner and the father of the two children, 38-year-old Donte Beasley, has been charged with the crimes.

The incidents sent shock waves through the community and stunned police officials and those serving domestic abuse victims.

“It’s alarming to all of us in the system,” says Shannon Barry, executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, the lead agency for providing services to battered women in Dane County.

The deaths pushed the total domestic-abuse-related murder count to seven in Dane County this year, two more than the five identified last year by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Had Rice and her children not survived, that number would have doubled the 2008 total.

In Adair’s case, there were warning signs. Three women, none of them the two he killed, requested domestic abuse retraining orders against Adair between 1995 and 2006. In March of this year, he was arrested after a domestic incident involving Judd, but prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge him. And according to Dane County sheriff’s officials, Judd was in the process of leaving Adair, which Barry says put her even more at risk.

“We know that victims are six times more likely to be killed by their abusers when trying to separate from the partner than at any other time,” Barry says. “So that’s pretty consistent with what we’ve seen.”

While the multiple shootings of the last few weeks have grabbed headlines, advocates for battered women say an increase in domestic violence had been simmering throughout the year. Domestic abuse hot lines in the area and nationwide have reported drastic increases in the numbers of women seeking help. Officials attribute the increase, and an increasing level of brutality toward victims, to economic hardship.

“We can’t definitively say it’s an economy issue, but it seems to be related to the economic recession,” Barry says.

The Capital Times reported in March that domestic abuse services were seeing a spike in the number of women seeking help. That trend has only become more pronounced.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services reported a 124-percent increase in clients in crisis for the first quarter of the year. The agency now says the number of those clients is up 144 percent for the first three quarters.

According to Madison Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain, the department hasn’t tracked crimes associated with domestic violence, and the federal government doesn’t require law enforcement agencies to separate domestic-abuse-related crimes from categories such as battery or aggravated assault. This year, the department has started to put a tracking system in place, but officials still are compiling the numbers.

“To a large extent it flies underneath the radar,” DeSpain says.

While the economy is apparently a factor, Barry says, the commonly held perception that men are snapping because of economic pressure doesn’t hold. Instead, her clients report that because they can’t find jobs and because family and friends that could normally provide shelter are too strapped to take them in, they are finding themselves trapped in abusive relationships they would otherwise have ended. Consequently, they are not leaving until the level of physical abuse forces them out, often with bruises, scars or fractures.

“We’re hearing from our clients that they’re experiencing more severe violence, like death threats, stalking, strangulation and mutilation,” she says.

Barry says Dane County lags every county in the state in the per-capita number of domestic abuse shelter beds: one bed per every 19,000 residents compared with the state average of one bed per 7,300 residents.

Women seeking shelter have overwhelmed the resources of the agency. The 25-bed shelter receives some money, about $29,000, from the city to put victims up in hotels.

“Because we’ve seen such a huge demand for services, that money was expended by the end of August this year,” Barry says.

Consequently, the wait list for the shelter has exploded. In the first three quarters of this year the shelter placed qualifying clients on a wait list 964 times compared with 56 in 2008, a 1,621-percent increase.

The increase in requests for service comes at a time when Barry’s agency is struggling to keep up. She says funding sources are drying up, and the agency has cut its staff of two-and-a-half case worker positions to two.

“It’s been a challenge,” she says. “Our staff are really rising to the challenge, but of course, we’re dealing with burnout issues and things like that.”

While evidence points to an increase in domestic violence, police officials both locally and nationwide are happily surprised at a general decrease in crime, bucking a trend that typically sees an increase during economic downturns.

At mid-year, the Madison Police Department reported a decrease in all crime categories except theft, which was up about 2 percent over 2008. The drop in crime mirrors a national trend, despite higher unemployment and a spike in home foreclosures.

But police this year also found themselves battling a worldwide supply of cheap, potent heroin and a wave of guns.

Sgt. Gordy Disch of the Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force says gun seizures have spiked this year, easily surpassing 100 weapons, while in all of 2008, Dane County officers seized 69.

“It’s been a banner year,” he says. “We’ve seized more firearms this year in search warrants and in our street arrests than we have in several years.”

One positive trend: the approximately 20 gunshot incidents in the first half of the year did not escalate into the wild west show that some feared. After police held a news conference to publicize the shooting incidents and contacted some of those they believed were responsible, the incidents tapered off.

“We worked hard to let them know we were aware of what they were doing,” DeSpain says.

Disch says heroin continues to be a huge concern. While deaths from the drug have declined — there were 14 known heroin deaths in Dane County in 2008 and eight in 2009 as of Dec. 11 — it continues to be responsible for more overdoses than any other drug. Disch says there were 122 reported drug overdoses in 2009, but officials still are compiling information about which drugs were involved. But he says it’s “more heroin than anything else.”

While not as pervasive as heroin, Disch says officials are seeing a marked increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, primarily opiates such as morphine and oxycodone, among young people, often stolen from household members and sold or traded in area schools.

“When they’re possession those drugs while they’re in school, it’s of grave concern,” he says.