- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Advocates for domestic violence victims are remembering a northern Indiana woman whose 1989 slaying spurred changes to the way crime victims are notified when their convicted assailants are released from prison.

Tuesday’s event in South Bend marked the 25th anniversary of Lisa Marie Bianco’s murder by her ex-husband, who was serving an eight-year sentence for battering Bianco.

The Indiana Department of Correction had failed to notify Bianco that Alan Matheney had been released from prison on a weekend pass. He traveled some 100 miles from a central Indiana prison to her Mishawaka’s home and bludgeoned her to death with a shotgun on March 4, 1989, while their two daughters fled.

Matheney was executed in 2005 for killing Bianco, whose death became a catalyst for domestic violence legislation.

After Bianco’s killing, then-Gov. Evan Bayh shuttered the state prison furlough system and lawmakers drafted bills related to the issue.

Bianco’s killing eventually led to the creation of a statewide notification system that automatically alerts victims who register for the service when an inmate is released from prison, or if the inmate’s status changes.

“That is the only thing that we can take away from what is otherwise a horrible event. It called attention to the situation,” Millie Bianco, Lisa’s mother, told the South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/1hKz8x1 ).

Among those who gathered for Tuesday’s event at the Family Justice Center was St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, who said Bianco’s killing also led to a change in laws that dictate when an officer can make an arrest after a misdemeanor battery report.

Legislation drafted in 1989 allowed police to make an arrest in such cases even if they did not witness a reported battery. Officers were previously powerless to act unless they saw a beating themselves.

Indiana also passed a constitutional amendment in 1996 that details victims’ rights in the wake of a crime.

“None of these things existed 25 years ago,” Dvorak said.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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