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December Verve: Lethal for 13 in 2011

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As we closeout the year and look forward to 2012, DVCC360 would like to acknowledge thirteen Connecticut women who were killed by an intimate partner in 2011.

We accept that communities may never be able to predict and preempt every domestic violence homicide, but certainly we must always strive towards that goal. Increased exposure to information and critical self-examination can only move us closer. With that in mind, DVCC360 believes that each of these tragedies has something to teach us and can provide opportunity for proactive discussions within our communities about the potential lethality of domestic violence and how we can work together to change the ending for the next victim.

Prior Criminal Conduct

In at least six of these fatalities, the perpetrator had been previously arrested for criminal conduct. A 2007 multi-state study found that offenders with a prior arrest record for any crime were more than seven times more likely to be rearrested for domestic violence than those without prior records. In the coming months, Verve will explore this and other abuse predictors and how our communities can use this information to advance our community response.

Prior Domestic Violence Arrests

At least four of those with prior arrest records had been previously processed through Connecticut’s criminal justice system on domestic violence charges. What can these cases show us about how our criminal justice system responds to domestic violence? In 2012, DVCC360 will present a lengthier issue of Verve which will highlight the benefits of vertical prosecution and what courts in other jurisdictions, as well as a few right here in Connecticut, are doing with the concept of specialized domestic violence courts.

Civil Court Involvement

In addition, we cannot forget how critical Connecticut’s civil courts are to victims of domestic violence. At least four of these women were actively involved in Family Court, and at least two had previous experience with Connecticut’s restraining order process. Saudina Mehovic reportedly predicted in her 2009 restraining order application that she would die by her husband’s hand. He was charged with violating that restraining order in May 2010. Verve will be exploring how Connecticut victims, like Saudina Mehovic, are experiencing the restraining order process, and what we, as a community, can do to increase the likelihood that more victims will view these orders as viable tools when constructing their safety nets. We are looking forward to working with each of you throughout the new year on these issues and more in an effort to reduce the count in 2012.

Hirschel, D., E. Buzawa, A. Pattavina, D. Faggiana, and M. Ruelan. “Explaining the Prevalence, Context, and Consequences of Dual Arrest in Intimate Partner Cases.” Final report for National Institute of Justice, grant number 2001-WT-BX-0501. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, April 2007, NCJ 218355 < http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=240055>.



Jocelyn Rodriguez, 29 years old, was fatally stabbed by her estranged husband on Valentine’s Day.

Jaclyn Fitzgerald, 24 years old, was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend.

Lynda Sanon, 25 years old, was fatally stabbed by her fiancé.

Wendy Warzeniak, 53 years old, was fatally shot by her boyfriend, who then shot and killed himself.

Saudina Mehovic, 37 years old, was fatally stabbed and shot by her ex-husband in front of their two teenage sons.

Susan Mazzarella, 51 years old, was strangled by her boyfriend, who had just been released from prison after serving a sentence for Violation of Protection Order.

Natalie Ramirez, 23 years old, was stabbed by the father of her two children, who were also in the home at the time of her death.

Linda Graveline, 59 years old, was stabbed to death on her birthday by her boyfriend.

Sharon Detlefsen, 63 years old, was shot to death by her husband.

Catherine Fox, 51 years old, was stabbed and strangled by her husband, who then hanged himself.

Frances Piscitelli, 41 years old, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend.

Suzete Berrincha, 22 years old, was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend.

Alycesson  Archer-Williams, 26 years old, was shot to death by her estranged husband.

*At the time of publication, any charges filed against the alleged perpetrators are still pending.