For all the confusion and dust (deliberately) kicked up around domestic violence, the real facts are clear: In 2009, 84% of Arizona's domestic violence murder-suicides were committed by men (16 out of 19). Of these murders, 50% of involved separation, divorce, and child custody issues. Who says that violence and child custody issues (i.e. coercive control of the children, former female partner) aren't intrinsically linked in the minds of these killers?
AzCADV releases '09 figures for domestic violence deaths
In 2009, 111 Arizonans died in domestic violence related incidents, the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AzCADV) said in a report.
The deceased included adult and teen victims of intimate partner violence, children killed by their parents or caretakers, people killed by their relatives and perpetrators who committed suicide or were killed by law enforcement responding to a domestic violence call. It was the first year since 2004 that the number of cases logged by the AzCADV actually decreased. However, Arizona saw a small but proportionally important increase in the number of domestic violence related homicide/suicides from previous years. There were 19 perpetrators with 24 victims, leaving 43 dead.
These tragedies comprised 38.7 percent of the total domestic violence-related fatalities in 2009, compared to 28.6 percent in 2008. In these cases, the victim and the perpetrator were overwhelmingly intimate partners, though several cases where a parent killed a child or children before committing suicide took place. Sixteen of the perpetrators were male, two were female and law enforcement did not release the sex of the perpetrator in the remaining case. Situations involving estrangement, such as divorce, separation or custody disputes, were mentioned in 50 percent of the homicide/suicides.
One such domestic violence murder/suicide reportedly took place east of Snowflake. On May 8, 2009, police found the bodies of Ronald Hancock and his 4-year-old daughter a few hundred feet away from his residence on Garden Home Trail, dead from apparent gunshot wounds. The incident took place after Hancock reportedly pulled a knife and tried to kill his ex-wife.
On May 27 of this year, in Taylor, 42-year-old Susan Curtis and her 7-year-old foster granddaughter were found dead in their home. Snowflake-Taylor Police said both died of gunshot wounds in a murder-suicide. In Show Low, there were two attempted murders involving domestic violence in over a month. One reportedly involved a woman trying to hit her boyfriend with a truck on Feb. 9 and another involved a man trying to kill her girlfriend with a rock on March 12 before he was tackled by the girlfriend's 16-year-old son.
The victims included 56 males, 54 females and one person of unknown sex. Among the deceased females, 34 (63 percent) were killed by a current or former intimate partner. Intimate partner homicide was responsible for six (11 percent) of the male fatalities. Among the deceased males, 24 (45 percent) of them took their own lives in the context of a domestic violence murder, attempted murder or assault.
In the logged deaths, firearms were the cause in more cases than all other methods combined. This is consistent every year, both nationally and in Arizona.
"While it is nice to finally see a decrease in the number of domestic violence-related deaths in Arizona, the trends are quite concerning," stated Allie Bones, executive director of AzCADV. "The report highlights the continued need for services in the community that are responsive to victims who are leaving abusive situations."
The full report can be accessed at http://www.azcadv.org/.