LAFAYETTE — Several homicides this year and last have revealed the deadly potential of domestic violence in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties, experts said this week.
Abusive relationships can quickly and unexpectedly spiral out of control, as evidenced by several cases of murder and attempted murder over the past 18 months.
"Unfortunately, we can see ... locally, and just across the country, what can happen if people aren't able to get out of the cycle of abuse or aren’t getting help," said Tenecia Waddell, director of crisis intervention services for Mental Health America of Tippecanoe. "It can end in death."
The most recent case of alleged domestic violence came to an end early Aug. 8, when 50-year-old Patrick Elliott told police he shot his wife once in the chest, sending her to the hospital, where she died, according to authorities.
Hours before the shooting, deputies were called to their home on East County Road 500 South for a domestic disturbance, although they left when the issue seemed to be resolved, according to a report by the Journal & Courier.
Investigators said a video recorded by Patrick Elliott's cellphone during the killing runs contrary his claims of self defense. The video, cited in a probable cause affidavit, allegedly shows him shoot his wife, 47-year-old Donita Elliott, and then stand by as she begs for help.
"It's five times more likely (for domestic abuse) to end in death when there's a gun in the home when things start to escalate," said Becky Wellner, director of YWCA of Greater Lafayette's domestic violence intervention and prevention program.
But a gun isn't the only weapon abusers could use to inflict harm.