BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - The death of a woman killed in Belgrade last week prompted advocates to warn that domestic violence is worsening in Gallatin County.
“This is something we’re, unfortunately, seeing more often,” said Erica Coyle, executive director of Haven, a domestic violence shelter in nearby Bozeman.
Lauren Walder DeWise was shot to death Jan. 7, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported . Another woman living in the home told police DeWise was attempting to leave an abusive relationship.
DeWise’s husband, 47-year-old Joseph Paul DeWise, was arrested on suspicion of felony deliberate homicide. He did not enter a plea at a court appearance on Friday and was ordered held on $800,000 bail.
Another person living in the Belgrade home, Ashley Van Hemert, 32, was injured.
Investigators have said Joseph Paul DeWise repeatedly denied any involvement in the shooting.
Coyle said the first few months after someone leaves an abusive relationship are particularly dangerous because abusers may try to keep control of the victim.
Coyle said access to firearms increases the likelihood of homicide in domestic violence by 500 percent.
The Haven center said Lauren DeWise had a 4-year-old daughter and described her as a “kindhearted, caring friend and mother.”
Coyle said Haven and centers like it have ways to help victims of domestic violence, including a crisis line, legal advocacy and online services.
“We are here 110 percent for those people,” said Coyle. “We want to get the education and tools into the hands of our community members so we can work together to end domestic violence.”
This story has been corrected to show the person who told police the victim was trying to leave an abusive relationship was not injured.
Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com
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