BOWLING GREEN — When they were killed, the 12 Wood County women who died at the hands of their husband or boyfriend had been in the relationship for an average of nine years.
Six of the women had contact with law enforcement during their tumultuous relationships. Three had filed for protection orders against their batterer. All were in the process of ending the relationship or had left their abuser when they were killed. Nine were killed in their homes — the place where people are supposed to feel safe.
These and other statistics released Thursday by the Wood County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team begin to paint a portrait of the women who, between 1991 and 2011, have become statistics. The team presented its “final” report and recommendations during a news conference in the atrium of the Wood County Courthouse, but County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said it is clear the need for such vigilance continues.
“As to whether we need to have a discussion on domestic violence and its potentially fatal results, we need to look no farther back than last week and no farther away than Lake Township,” he said, referring to the Oct. 16 shooting deaths of Amber Jones, 26, and her 3-year-old son, Jorge Duran III.
Authorities say they were shot by Jorge Duran, Jr., 24, the boy’s father, who was shot and killed by Lake Township police at the scene.
It was the second domestic-related homicide in Wood County this year. Leandra Frankum, 21, of Perrysburg Township was shot July 22 at a relative’s home in Perrysburg Heights. Her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jose Moya, Jr., 23, of Toledo, has been charged with murder in her death.
Of the 12 deaths, four of them occurred between 1991 and 1995; there wasn’t another in the county until 2002, according to the report.
Kathy Mull, coordinator of the fatality review team and program manager at the Cocoon Shelter in Bowling Green, said team members will continue reviewing such deaths, while the Wood County Family Justice Committee — a consortium of law enforcement, judicial, and social service agencies — will be responsible for implementing the changes recommended in the team’s report.
Those include standardizing practices at the various courts and law enforcement agencies in the county that handle domestic violence cases, holding batterers accountable, and making sure the agencies that work with victims collaborate and communicate.
Ms. Mull said some of the specific recommendations are not that complex. She said the team found, for example, that different courts and police departments have different forms and procedures, making it difficult for advocates who work with victims of domestic violence to accurately advise them about what to expect.
“The safety of victims is of utmost importance,” she said.
Michelle Clossick, executive director of Cocoon, stressed that services are available for victims of domestic violence, and that advocates will come directly to victims when that's possible and safe.
“In Wood County, domestic violence is the No. 1 cause of homicide,” she said, adding that in 1991 no local shelter or comprehensive services existed for victims.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said he had reviewed the report and found it filled with “excellent ideas.”
“I think many of those ideas can be implemented at no cost, and I certainly will vow to work with Prosecutor Dobson and anyone else — the judges, the courts — to make sure that we partner on law enforcement’s side.”
Mr. Dobson said he has spoken with state legislators and the prosecutors’ association about stiffening penalties for domestic violence cases. He is looking at filing “collateral” charges, such as menacing by stalking and aggravated menacing, against offenders who stop short of causing physical abuse.
“This report is only effective if it results in change,” Mr. Dobson said. “The Bible says that faith without deeds is dead. We can continue to talk, but it’s only when that motivates us to action that we have accomplished something.”
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6129.