Wednesday, July 8, 2009

West Georgia Murder-Suicide Follow-up

WALB has further news regarding the man who killed his girlfriend then himself in Clay County:

The woman killed filed two orders to protect herself and her property just hours before the deadly attack.

Angela Sands filed for a stay-off-of-property notice around 9:30 AM Monday morning. Ft. Gaines Police notified 40 year old Eddie Heard, Junior that the paperwork had been filed just a short time before he killed her.

Police Chief Sonny Davis said Heard came to see him Monday morning, complaining that Sands owed him money. When Sands stopped by the station later, she told police she intended to pay Heard $100 she owed for the installation of her new mobile home.

Sands told the chief she didn't want Heard on her property and applied for the protective notice. When Heard stopped by to see the Chief later in the afternoon, an officer served him with the paperwork.

Angela Sands had also called the Patuala District Attorney's office to request a temporary protection order, although that order would never be served. Researchers estimate that three to four million women are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands or partners. Temporary Protective Orders are a way to escape the violence and start the legal process that can lead to an arrest.

Victim advocates say there is a 75 percent greater chance for a homicide when a victim files for a temporary protective order, that's why advocates say it needs to be a planned out process.

The brutal murder-suicide in Clay County has once again put a spotlight on domestic violence and how dangerous it can be to escape the pattern.

"Once a woman makes a decision to leave that's the most dangerous time for her because she has finally taken back some power and he will escalate," said Silke Deeley of the Liberty House.

Victims' advocates at the Liberty House that serves 17 south Georgia counties including Clay County say, applying for a temporary protection order can be dangerous, but it's often necessary.

"A restraining order is just a piece of paper and it doesn't stop bullets and it doesn't stop knives, and it doesn't stop fists or anything else," said Deeley.

That's why it's important law enforcement who often deal with domestic problems put victims in touch with an advocate who can make them aware of potential warning signs.

"When their partner is kind of isolating them, very controlling, possibly keeping the finances under their grips, not allowing them free access to the finances," said Tonya Abner, Dougherty District Attorney Victims' Advocate.

Advocates say every woman attempting to escape that type of situation should have a plan to distance themselves from the aggressor, even if that means relocating.

"We need to talk to her about ways to be safe and ways her family needs to be safe," said Deeley.
Women in the Atlanta, GA area who would like to speak with an advocate about making a plan for her safety can call our 24-hour hotline at 404-688-9436. Elsewhere in Georgia, you can call 1-800-33-HAVEN. If you live outside of Georgia, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. All call are confidential and you can remain anonymous if you like. Friends and family members can also call these hotlines to learn how you can talk to someone in your life who may be experiencing family violence.

You can also find a downloadable safety plan on our website.

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