Georgia again high on list of men killing women

Once again, Georgia is among the top states in which men kill women.

In the most current FBI data, Georgia had the nation’s sixth-highest rate in 2009. The previous year, in the Supplemental Homicide Reports submitted to the FBI, Georgia was No. 10.

The Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization, releases the data every October in its “When Men Murder Women” report as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Although the report does not focus solely on domestic violence, the center says it serves as a reminder of how domestic violence and guns make a deadly combination.

In Richmond County, the number of domestic violence reports has been increasing since 2009.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles said it’s unclear whether the actual number of incidents is rising or more people are reporting abuse.

“The economy does have an impact on stress level,” Peebles said.

In 2009, there were 2,247 cases of domestic violence in Richmond County. In 2010, the number increased to 2,638. As of the end of August, 1,969 cases had been reported – a number that exceeded those reported through August 2010 by more than 250.

According to data compiled by The Augusta Chronicle, 16 women have died since 2005 as a result of domestic violence.

Peggy Walker, the chairwoman of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, said the announcement that the state’s rate of men killing women had risen yet again was disappointing, but not surprising.

“We’re working very hard on the issue, and we have great hopes for the work we’re doing,” she said. “At the same time, we have to be realistic. When we look at the numbers, we know that we’re not doing as much work in the areas that we need to do the work in.

Georgia is not the only Southern state that rated high. Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina all ranked in the top 10.

Walker said although there’s no exact data to show why domestic violence deaths are higher in Southern states, there is evidence that suggests the region’s concentration of poverty is a contributing factor.

“When you’re living in poverty, your options are much more limited in making decisions for safety,” she said. “Economic dependence is a huge factor in keeping women in abusive relationships.”

Firearms being more prevalent in the South also contributes to the statistics.

According to the Violence Policy Center, two-thirds of women who own guns acquired them primarily for protection against crime.

However, a 2003 study found that women living with a gun in the home were nearly three times more likely to be killed than women with no gun in the home.

The report examined all instances in which a single female was killed by a single male. Georgia had 90 such incidents in 2009.

In Richmond County, five women were killed by men in 2009. At least two of the women’s deaths were a result of domestic violence. Both ended in murder-suicide.

On June 16, 2009, Alabama authorities discovered the bodies of Scottie and Jessica Murphy, of Augusta, at an interstate rest stop.

Local authorities say Scottie Murphy killed his 30-year-old wife, put her in the trunk of the car and drove to Alabama, where he shot and killed himself.

The couple had separated at the time of the incident.

Tonya Sims, 33, was shot multiple times Aug. 1, 2009, by her common law husband 33-year-old Johnnie Lee Lewis. He then committed suicide.

Sims family members told The Augusta Chronicle following the incident that the couple, who had been together for 17 years and had six children, had a long history of domestic violence.

Sims had left Lewis and was staying with her mother when he showed up and killed both of them, police say, adding that one of their children witnessed the incident.

“When you decide to leave an abusive relationship, that is the most dangerous time because that power and control the abuser has is being altered and they’re losing control,” said Aimee Hall, the executive director of SafeHomes of Augusta.

SafeHomes works with domestic abuse victims in 10 counties to assist in successfully ending an abusive relationship and starting over again. Hall said Richmond County has the largest clientele.

“The stats say it takes seven to nine times of coming and going to break the cycle, and the stats prove to be true,” Hall said.

“Mary,” a 27-year-old victim at SafeHomes who asked not to be identified, said she was lucky that she was able to get out of her abusive relationship before it turned deadly.

She had been in the relationship for about two years when her boyfriend started turning abusive. For two more years, she stayed in the relationship but was looking for a way out.

Without a job or vehicle of her own, she said it was difficult to separate herself from the man she shared a home within a rural area. When she could get a ride into town, she would pick up housing applications. Back home, she would hide them around the house while she waited for her next trip.

“I’d hide them under clothes and everywhere, but he would always find them,” she said.

Memorial Day 2011 was the beginning of the end.

The couple began arguing, and it escalated.

Mary said he hit and pushed her, and then threw food from the cabinets around the house.

Mary still has a scar on her hand where she pushed away the knife he had put to her head.

The next morning, she put her three children on the bus and prepared to leave for good.

“I knew then it was time to go,” she said. “I just started walking.”

She wasn’t far down the road when she saw her boyfriend behind her.

Mary said he screamed and ripped off her clothes until she was naked from the waist up.

The violence continued for several hours. Mary said he dragged her by the feet and beat her with an outdoor chair while she waited for help.

A phone call for help led her to SafeHomes.

Since her arrival in June, SafeHomes has helped Mary get a job. Now, she is applying for places to live.

“Everything is looking so much better. If you could just understand this feeling I have. It’s beautiful,” she said.

“If I haven’t done anything else, I’ve laughed. All I can describe is happiness. I couldn’t have told you I was happy a month or two ago. I’m smiling and laughing and getting things accomplished.”

 

SURVIVORS WALK

Survivors will share their stories and balloons will be released to honor living and dead victims from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at Augusta State University.

FOR HELP

If you are a victim or know someone who needs help, call (800) 799-SAFE.

THE VICTIMS

(*) indicates women who were victims of domestic violence. The list is not limited to single-victim, single-offender cases.

2005

*Gloria Gene Roberison, 41, was discovered stabbed and submerged in a car in a pond off Old Savannah Road on Jan. 7. Ex-boyfriend Ronnie Rhodes, 40, committed suicide.

*Betty D’Antignac, 52, was beaten and stabbed by Robert Pitts, 44, while he was stealing money to buy drugs April 16. Family members differ on whether D’Antignac and Pitts were in a relationship.

Betty Ann Gaines, 35, was shot during an argument with John Lombard Smith, 41, on Aug. 25.

Debra Dorch, 36, was shot in the back in a case of mistaken identity in Aiken County on Aug. 27. Cornell D. Tyler, 22; Edward Walker, 26; Tremaine Tyler, 25, and Willie Ware, 23, were charged.

*Daphne Foster, 34, was shot several times by her husband, Calvin Wayne Foster, 36, on Sept. 27.

2006

Sherry Rose Murphy, 43, died eight months after being sexually assaulted, beaten and left in a wooded area Jan. 9. Michael Clay, 25, was charged.

*Nicole McKie, 34, was shot by her boyfriend Jeffrey Scott Jr., 24, after she told him she was pregnant with someone else’s child Feb. 10.

Dale Baldwin, 83, was beaten with a baseball bat by her son Craig Baldwin, 57, over money he owed her June 24.

*Virginia Lee, 72, was shot by her husband, Carl Edward Lee, 75, who then committed suicide Dec. 28. She suffered from a severe illness.

2007

*Latoya Singleton, 28, was shot by her boyfriend, Jimmy Lee Jones, 35, during an argument over ending their relationship April 14.

*Deborah Perez, 57, was stabbed by her husband, Charles Manuel Perez, 61, on June 7.

*Samara Jones, 18, was shot by boyfriend Jatavious January, 18, after he suspected she was cheating June 28.

*Marcia Collins Wood, 49, was shot by ex-boyfriend Robert Asmann, 62, after she ended the relationship July 3.

Elizabeth Beasley, 47, and Anna Loebsack, 36, were shot by their father, Alton Beasley, 61, on Nov. 27. He blamed them for his pending divorce with their mother.

2008

Sharon Hartley, 56, was stabbed by her daughter’s boyfriend, Adrian T. Hargrove, on Feb. 9.

*Allyson Pederson, 18, was burned by her boyfriend, Adrian T. Hargrove, on Feb. 9.

Infant Kayliah Mack died after being shaken by her mother’s boyfriend, Shaun Perdue, 27, on May 21.

*Sirlinda Price, 34, was shot during an argument with her ex-boyfriend, Earl Dinkins, 42, on Sept. 7.

2009

Katherine Parsons, 41, was beaten by a female neighbor and her son Christopher Sean Bowers on March 25 in Columbia County. Bower’s mother sought a relationship with Parsons’ husband.

Shawndrel Danielle Horton, 18, was shot by Brodrick Deontay Seals, 17, during an argument June 11.

*Jessica Murphy, 30, was shot by her estranged husband, Scottie Murphy, on June 16. He committed suicide.

*Tonya Sims, 33, was shot by her common-law husband, Johnnie Lee Lewis, 33, on Aug. 1. He committed suicide.

Patricia Leigh Troglen, 22, was shot by her stepbrother, Eric Lee Philips Whitehead, 14, on Aug. 7. He suffered mental problems.

Martha Greene, 69, was shot during a robbery by Kelvin Stafford Johnson, 24, on Aug. 26.

2010

Tykiah Palmer, 16, and her unborn child died after being shot by Loviet Nushawn Edwards, 15, when she interrupted an argument Feb. 17.

*Brandi Nicole Jordan, 36, was fatally shot by her boyfriend, Travis B. Miller, 36, on July 6 in Aiken County. He committed suicide.

*Gene Bailey, 84, was suffocated July 16 by her husband, Henry Wright Bailey, 84, who then tried to kill himself. Gene Bailey was very ill at the time.

Yana Schenker, 75, was strangled and burned by Franklin Wright, 55, on Aug. 11 in Aiken County.

Shalamar Nicole Byrd, 38, was strangled and burned by Franklin Wright, 55, on Aug. 11 in Aiken County.

*Misty Weegar, 41, was beaten and stabbed by her boyfriend, Michael Todd Williams, 40, on Aug. 12 in Columbia County.

Patricia Burley, 45, was sexually assaulted and strangled by Corey Smith, 29, on Aug. 25. She suffered from Down syndrome.

*Norma Jean Mobley, 52, was stabbed by ex-boyfriend, Samuel Steplight, 54, on Nov. 3.

2011

Dorothy Lockwood, 92, was beaten by her grandson Theodore Cornell Lockett, 21, on Jan. 8.

Zion Harris, 2 months, died after being shaken by her father, Jacques Santonio Butler, 20, on Jan. 26.

*Evelyn Walker Bell, 46, was strangled by her boyfriend, Timothy Davis, 44, on June 19.

*Kenneth Myers, 47, killed four women in Aiken County before killing himself July 2. The women were his ex-girlfriend, Esther Baldwin, 47; his wife, Angela Myers, 25; her twin sister, Tabitha Brown, 25; and their mother, Vicki May Hook Brown, 50.

Helen Magee, 31, was strangled during an argument with James Gray, 35, on July 23 in Aiken County.

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