Deaths highlight the dangers of domestic abuse
Lisa Morgan had become a grandmother a couple of weeks ago and was excited to see her first grandchild.But she never got that chance. Her common-law husband, Robert Taliaferro, cut her life short when he shot her to death, then killed himself Tuesday night in Snowmass Village.Domestic violence is a shocking, brutal crime, and it is usually followed with insidious behavior by the perpetrator. Apologies and pledges to change can give way to threats: against themselves, their spouse, their children, their parents. And so the chances the crime is reported diminish.”Domestic violence is always a challenge,” said Snowmass Police Chief Art Smythe.While the mountains have their share of domestic crime – Smythe said officers were serving a restraining order in another domestic violence case when they were called to the murder scene Tuesday night – this is the Roaring Fork Valley’s first case of a person killing a spouse.”It is a shock when something like this happens in this community,” said Peg McGavock, executive director of Response – Help for Battered Women, a local advocacy group. “(But) suicide-homicide is quite common. You’ll hear about it happening elsewhere where someone will (kill) his wife and his children and then kill himself.”Both Morgan and Taliaferro had sedatives and alcohol in their systems when they died. Drinking and drugs are often contributing factors in domestic-violence cases, McGavock said.”People lose their restraint and don’t realize what they’re doing,” she said.But the deadliest situation often arises when a spouse tries to leave an abusive relationship.”Once the perpetrator gets that message that (a spouse is) leaving, that’s when they might do something drastic,” McGavock said. “Domestic violence is about power and control. To kill someone is the ultimate control.”A point that we’ll probably be stressing even more now is that if a person’s partner threatens suicide, it’s not just suicide that they’re threatening. They’re not going to go alone.”Getting out of a violent relationship takes careful planning and an understanding of how a spouse will react, McGavock said. “It’s something the person has to really think about and really say (to themselves), ‘I wonder what my partner’s going to do if I leave.’ And that’s why a lot of women don’t leave,” she said. “We are always warning victims and trying to get them to develop safety plans so this won’t happen.”McGavock said employees at Response are doing “a lot of soul-searching. Everything that we do is to try to prevent this from happening.”For Morgan’s family, the loss has been indescribable.”Lisa loved her family dearly and we loved her in return,” her sister, Leslie Prichard, wrote in an e-mail. “She will be missed more than I can ever express through words on a page, and her life was so much more valuable than this tragic ending that we are all desperately struggling to even comprehend.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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