Domestic abuse highlighted at the state capitol

New numbers are out from the annual Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women Femicide Report and while they’re down over the last few years, the numbers are not good: at least 18 Minnesotans lost their lives last year to domestic abuse. One of these murder victims was a man; three were friends or family members. The murders left 11 minor children without parents.

Those numbers do not include victims who were abused and survived.

The group held a press conference at the capitol Tuesday to highlight efforts to prevent more domestic violence deaths. Law enforcement officials from around the metro spoke along with victims advocates, calling for better intervention in domestic abuse situations. Here are a few cases from last year highlighted in the report:

-On Dec. 27, Lolitta Malone, 31 was murdered by an acquaintance, Honora Patterson, who was a frequent visitor to her home in north Minneapolis. While Lolitta was in bed, Patterson soaked her with gasoline and stabbed her several times. Lolitta is survived by her 26-year-old son. Patterson was charged with second degree murder and is awaiting trial.

-On Oct. 25, Tensia Richard, 22, was killed by her estranged husband, Chevel Richard. Tensia was attacked outside Anytime Fitness center in Cottage Grove, chased across the parking lot over to the Jimmy John’s restaurant where she tried to signal for help. Once inside the restaurant, the employees ran and hid inside the freezer, leaving Tensia alone and helpless with her husband who then shot her to death. After killing his wife, Chevel then shot and killed himself. Chevel had a long history of domestic violence and in the past, Tensia had also taken a protective order against Chevel. Just two weeks before the incident, Tensia had separated from her husband and was in the process of filling for a divorce. Tensia is survived by the couple’s two young sons.

-On Jan. 13, Vinessa Lozano, 18, had just finished a shift at the Pizza Ranch in Montevideo, when her co-worker, Darek Nelson, 24, stabbed her 30 times with a large hunting knife. She was brought to the hospital but died soon after. Vinessa had befriended Nelson after he started working at the pizza restaurant in 2011 but Nelson took her friendship to be something more, despite the fact that she had an 18-month old son and a fiancé. Just before the murder, Vinessa had refused Nelson’s invitation to meet him at his mother’s residence. A grand jury indicted Nelson on first-degree murder.

-On Feb. 20, Christopher Fulmer, 37, his girlfriend CF and her three daughters were asleep in Fulmer’s house when CF’s estranged husband, Brian Daniel Freeman, broke into the house armed with a hammer. Freeman injured CF’s two teenage daughters, beat Fulmer to death with the hammer, and severely injured CF who was lying in the bed next to Fulmer. CF and her two daughters were badly hurt and Fulmer was killed.

The Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women is calling on lawmakers to consider domestic violence in any public safety legislation they pass this session. They say coordinated efforts to target the most lethal perpetrators of domestic abuse, and to help abuse victims, has shown success. The group plans to rally in what it’s calling an “Action Day to End Violence Against Women,” at the state Capitol March 12.

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