Vermont Records First Year with No Domestic Violence Murders - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont Records First Year with No Domestic Violence Murders

Montpelier, Vermont - April 13, 2006

For what is believed to be the first time on record, Vermont had no murders that were the result of domestic violence in 2005.

In 1991, Vermont authorities and lawmakers decided to get tough on domestic abuse after a record-setting year of 24 murders, 22 of them the result of domestic violence. It appears the response may be working, because last year, for the first time in state history, not one murder was triggered by domestic violence.

There were seven murders in Vermont in 2005. Motives included rapes, road rage, and robbery. But for the first time on record none of the murders were motivated by domestic violence.

"Well obviously that's good news, it reflects a lot of hard work being done in a number of areas to deal with the issue of domestic violence," said Kerry Sleeper, Vt. Public Safety Commissioner.

Sleeper was a state trooper in 1991, when 24 people were murdered in Vermont, most of them involving domestic violence. That triggered tough new domestic abuse laws, new protection programs for victims, and public education.

"And that comprehensive approach appears to be working, at least in the areas of domestic homicide," said Sleeper.

"So we would want to hope that we are making a difference. Otherwise what's the point?" said Anera Foco of Women Helping Battered Women.

Foco says domestic murders may have been zero last year, but the number of abused women seeking help from Women Helping Battered Women has increased more than 50% since 1995, from 1320 to 2000.

"The homicide is the extreme part of domestic violence. No we are not seeing decreased numbers unfortunately," Foco added.

Vermont will not post another zero for domestic murders this year.

So far in 2006 there have been two murders. One is a domestic violence case, according to police. Frankie Niles is charged with second-degree murder for the death of his girlfriend Tina Fontaine in Albany.

Brian Joyce - Channel 3 News

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