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Controlling domestic violence homicides is a challenge for police, agencies helping battered women

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – Some of the situations are life or death matters.

We’re talking about domestic violence homicides, a problem causing frustration for police and Fort Wayne’s mayor.

Tom Henry, in a recent interview with Fort Wayne’s NBC, cited an increased number of domestic violence deaths in the city in 2018, saying it’s a problem his administration and other agencies have limited ability to control.

What is being done to try and get a handle on this public safety threat where so much is at stake?

In May, on Baxter Street, 41-year old Lucia Segura died in her home from stab wounds to the neck.

She was attacked with a machete.

Her husband, Julio Rodriguez, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 years for the crime.

The stabbing death of 38-year old Janaya Boone at the Regency Inn on Coliseum Boulevard this month is also linked to domestic violence.

Mayor Henry says more police are being hired by the city, and those currently on the force are targeting drug dealers, gangs and guns to fight crime, but when it comes to preventing domestic violence homicides, Henry says it’s a tough go.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do about that,” Henry said.

Garry Hamilton, deputy chief over the city’s investigative division, says his detectives have worked six documented homicides this year that are domestic related, and he says that number is quite high for Fort Wayne.

In domestic violence cases, Hamilton says families often keep problems to themselves, and victims who call for help may defend their attackers when police get on the scene.

Fort Wayne PD does train its officers to quiz victims to gauge the risk of a situation turning deadly.

“There’s things we go through, point by point, and if it reaches those criteria, it’s like, okay, maybe we should find you some place to stay, we can’t force them, but we do provide that information and a way out,” Hamilton said.

The YWCA of Northeast Indiana has 66 beds for women battling domestic abuse, but Jennifer Rohlf  with the agency says at times as many as 100 women are in the YWCA shelter.

She says women who get protective orders to shield themselves from danger sometimes make the mistake of not reporting violations.

“Just by nature in our heads, we start to downplay it, well, all they said was words, they didn’t physically show up at my house, so maybe I’ll just let that go,” Rohlf said.

She says agencies like the YWCA are working to better educate victims on how to document and report domestic violence incidents before they degenerate into full blown tragedies.

If you need emergency help for this problem, you can call the YWCA Crisis Hotline at 800-441-4073.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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