Domestic violence experts in DC watched homicide reports closely this year, culling the details of every case to determine whether murder victims were also domestic violence victims.
Of 108 reported homicides this year, 13 victims have been killed in domestic violence attacks, according to records kept by the DCCADV and DC SAFE. Twelve domestic violence homicides were reported in all of last year, in comparison. Though the increase is slight, domestic violence experts are worried.
“It’s just alarming to me,” Loudermilk said. “We are not exactly sure what’s going on.”
Many of the year’s domestic violence homicides haven’t met any traditional expectations of domestic violence either. Only a fraction of the reported cases appear to be intimate partner violence. And more than half involve other family members: siblings, step-relatives, and others. Also males outnumber females as domestic homicide victims this year.
Said Karma Cottman, Executive Director of DCCADV:
These numbers tell us that while we have made incredible strides to address violence in our city, there is still much more to be done. When we look at these numbers they tell a story of incredible violence in our homes – between siblings, parents, relatives and intimate partners. We have to dedicate resources to figuring out what this means about the safety of our homes and how we can focus efforts to prevent this type of violence so we are not again faced with another year of murders in the very place that is supposed to be the safest, at home with our families.
Last year, DC debuted a “lethality assessment project” for domestic violence, funneling extra resources to domestic violence victims whose living conditions signified that they were at risk of dying in a domestic violence attack. The project has had success elsewhere and SAFE Executive Director Elisabeth Olds said there were signs that it was working in DC, too.
In the project’s first year, the number of reported domestic violence homicides decreased to 12 from 21 the previous year. That more domestic homicides were reported this year than last year is not a cause for concern about the project itself, said Olds.
The lethality assessment project still works, but in DC as in other jurisdictions, it takes time and widespread screening linked to direct services to see a consistent impact over multiple years. The DV homicides this year do not follow a pattern, which is unusual, but they speak to a need for broader and more aggressive outreach and screening for domestic violence and referral to concrete services like the Lethality Assessment Project, as well as other services in the community, so that the people who need the most assistance can receive support and enhanced services immediately. The majority of those killed this year did not receive assistance.
This year’s domestic violence Homicide Cases
(list courtesy of DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and DC SAFE)
Nicholas Satcher, 22, was killed in a shooting Jan. 5, 2011. His step-father, Ronald Page, has pleaded innocent to a charge of second-degree murder in the case. A jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 2012.
Derrick Thornton, 22, died in a stabbing Feb. 11, 2011. His brother, Deon Thornton, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for the crime of voluntary manslaughter.
Selina Knight, 36, died in a stabbing March 4, 2011. Her boyfriend, Keith Littlepage, has been charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with the case. He has pleaded innocent.
Vanessa McGee, 36, was killed in a shooting March 5, 2011. Her fiance, Ronald Pickett, has pleaded innocent to a charge of second-degree murder while armed. A jury trial is scheduled for June 2012.
Sonya Lynch, 46, was fatally stabbed April 17. She was found in the parking lot of the Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion at about 9:50 p.m. No arrests have been announced in connection with the case.
Alphonzo Epps, 20, was fatally stabbed May 3, 2011. No arrests have been announced in connection with the case.
Lamont Warren, 36, was killed in stabbing June 3, 2011. Warren’s girlfriend, Patricia Cave, has pleaded innocent to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the case. A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 2012.
Howard Williams, 48, was fatally shot Aug. 6, 2011. His wife’s nephew, Lester James Wright, is suspected of second-degree murder while armed in connection with the case but has not yet been indicted by a grand jury.
Viola Drath, 91, was beaten Aug. 12, 2011. Her husband, Albrecht Muth, is suspected of second-degree murder in connection with the case but has not yet been indicted by a grand jury.
Vance Harris, 28, was killed in a stabbing Aug. 13, 2011. His girlfriend, Dominique Bassil, is charged with second-degree murder while armed. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 2012.
Leonard Bigelow, 43, was killed in a shooting Aug. 26, 2011. His sister’s ex-boyfriend, Brandon Andrews, is suspected of second degree murder in connection with the case but has not yet been indicted.
Alicia Wheeler, 42, was fatally stabbed Sept. 13, 2011. Her ex-husband, Claude Kinney, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 2012.
Mark Goldring, 45, was fatally stabbed Oct. 11, 2011. His half sibling, Jewell Washington, is suspected of second-degree murder but the case has not yet been indicted.
FROM DC SAFE: Need help with domestic violence? Call the National DV Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or call 202-879-7857 locally 24 hours a day to find out about their options. The Domestic Violence Intake Centers are open Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm and can be accessed at the DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 4200, or at United Medical Center 1310 Southern Avenue, SE, Room 311. People can just walk in and ask to speak to an advocate about their situation. All services are free of charge.