Domestic violence fatalies down in Ohio

“The reality of domestic violence is always present and always among us,” said Debbie Matheson, the executive director of the Family Violence Prevention Center in Xenia.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, a 25-year-old New York resident, fatally shot his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kassandra Perkins, inside the home they shared Saturday morning. After shooting Perkins, Belcher drove to the team’s practice facility where he had a brief conversation with the team’s general manager, Scott Pioli, and head coach, Romeo Crennel, before ending his life by shooting himself in the head.

“The reality is it highlights the fact that it’s happening every day to women in our community,” said Nancy Neylon, the executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

Several recent high-profile local cases illustrate the severity of domestic violence:

On Tuesday, police were searching for Fred Crenshaw Jr., a 21-year-old Dayton man, after the mother of his 6-month-old son accused him of holding her against her will for several hours.

The victim, 20, said she recently told Crenshaw she didn’t want to be in a relationship with him anymore. She alleged she was at Crenshaw’s house on Walton Avenue when he grabbed her hair, choked and hit her. Then, he allegedly got a gun and dragged her into the back yard and struck her in the face with the gun, according to a police report. Crenshaw allegedly held the woman against her will for two to three hours before taking her to Good Samaritan Hospital.

According to police, the victim’s right eye was swollen shut. She also had swelling and bruises on the right side of her face.

A Hamilton father and son were found dead inside their home, located at 62 Chamberlin Drive, Tuesday night. Robert Johnson, 58, and Scott Johnson, 32, had been shot and police are investigating their deaths as a murder-suicide. Robert Johnson’s brother, David Johnson, also lived at the Chamberlin Drive home. He dialed 911 after he discovered both bodies.

A Yellow Springs woman was shot and killed by her former husband on Dec. 2 inside the home they shared on Larkins Road, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. Four people identified as friends and family also were inside the home when Jimmy R. Carter, 51, shot Elizabeth Carter, 47, more then once before turning the gun on himself. Elizabeth Carter was dead when deputies arrived at the home. Jimmy Carter died while receiving medical attention from the Miami Township Fire Department, according to the sheriff’s office.

In spite of the recent high-profile cases, statewide numbers of domestic violence-related fatalities have dropped significantly during the past five years.In 2006, 485 fatalities were reported. About 88 percent were victim fatalities, according to data from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

In 2007, 123 fatalities were reported and the number continued to decline until 2010 when 127 domestic violence related deaths were reported. More recently, the number of fatalities took a second dip when 55 domestic violence related deaths were reported in 2011.

“I don’t think it’s (the number of incidents) increasing,” Neylon said. “I think there’s a greater awareness of it.”

A number of national surveys report one in four women is physically abused by her intimate partner during her lifetime, Neylon added.

The Greene County Family Violence Prevention Center staff has been working on plans to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide information for victims in places they may routinely visit, Matheson said. The organization is planning to work with doctor’s and dentist’s offices where it hopes to leave literature that would be helpful for victims.

“I think it’s a process of making people aware of what domestic violence is,” Matheson said.

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