Majority of murders in Chesterfield linked to domestic violence

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - We've uncovered some disturbing numbers out of Chesterfield County.  A majority of the people murdered this year were involved in domestic disputes.

Flashing lights and police tape surrounded two Chesterfield locations the night of June 23. Cindy Parker was shot dead outside a Chester restaurant.  Misty Bessette was killed in her home off of Seti Court. Their deaths mark the sixth and seventh murders in the county this year.  Police report six of those deadly crimes are linked to domestic violence.

"Domestic can cover a lot of different family relationships," said Sharon Lindsay, Domestic Violence Coordinator for the Chesterfield County Police Department.

A boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, husband and stepfather are all facing murder charges for crimes committed this year. The county's domestic violence coordinator says the numbers fluctuate and there's never a trend: In 2006 there were six murder victims, one was domestic.

In 2007, three out of 10 were domestic-related. Two years ago out of 11 victims, five were domestic-related.  Last year one of two was domestic.

"Certainly the economy can make certain situations within a home more stressful," said Lindsay.  "We haven't noticed specific trends in our domestic violence numbers but again we know there is a lot of things going on in the home that people are hesitant to report to the police."

People may be nervous to talk with police but most feel comfortable talking with Kathleen Demro with Safe Harbor.

"So what Safe Harbor does is we're the people that can help them make a plan for leaving if they choose to leave," said Demro.

Unfortunately, business is up.

"In our last fiscal year we worked with almost 1,000 people face-to-face," she said.

Her staff, police and county social workers are trained to deal with domestic violence situations, but they need to know about them first.

"We're concerned about your life. We're concerned about the lives and well being of your children."

Chesterfield County Community Resources:
Police Department: (Emergency) 911 (Non-emergency) 748-1251
Domestic Violence Coordinator: 751-4113
Commonwealth Attorney: 748-1341
Court Service Unit: (Protective Orders) 748-1372
Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court: 748-1379
Mental Health-Crisis: 748-6356
Victim/Witness Assistance Program: 717-6179
Legal Aid, Domestic Violence Unit: 648-1012
YWCA Women's Advocacy Program & Shelter: 796-3066
Domestic Violence Resource Center: 706-6600

Safe Harbor:
24 hour assistance/Hotline 804-287-7877

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