KYW Exclusive: Victim advocates sound alarm on spike in domestic violence homicides

Cherri Gregg
September 19, 2019 - 7:51 am
A new law that is designed to take guns away from domestic abusers and save lives goes into effect Wednesday in Pennsylvania.

Courtesy of Women Against Abuse

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The number of domestic violence homicides is up — and a local group that advocates for victims of intimate partner violence is sounding the alarm. 

It's been nearly a year since City Hall staffer Linda Rios was murdered by her estranged husband before he took his own life, making her one of 27 victims of domestic violence homicide in 2018.

"This is a trend over the last couple of years. We've seen a little bit of an uptick in domestic violence homicide," says Jeannine Lisitski, executive director of Women Against Abuse. 

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The group tracked the number of domestic violence murders over the past decade. Lisitski says the numbers had stabilized, even ticked down from a high of 36 domestic violence murders in 2009. But since 2017, everything changed.

"The overhall homicide rate has began increasing in 2017 and 2018," says Lisitski. And with it has come an even higher spike in the number of domestic violence homicides.

According to Philadelphia Police Department numbers, there were 317 murders in 2017 and 353 in 2018, about an 11% increase. Among those, 22 in 2017 and 27 in 2019 were domestic violence homicides 11 that's a 22% increase over the previous year. 

The problem is, it's unclear why.

"There's so many factors that impinge on the homicide rate — that certainly it's things within our city, things within our country, things within our world," says Lisitski. "This is not a DA problem or a police problem, it's a whole culture issue."

Lisitski notes upticks in gun violence has an impact, because most intimate partner and domestic violence homicides are by gun. She says Women Against Abuse will present the numbers to Philadelphia's Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Taskforce. 

"So now that we know it, what do we do?" she says. "That's the question. But the answer is on multiple layers."

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This weekend on "Flashpoint with Cherri Gregg," Lisitski will be part of a panel that will discuss the recent rash of women murdered in Philadelphia. Plus, hear an expert lay out the dangers of vaping.

Flashpoint airs every Saturday at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on 1060-AM. It also airs at 5 a.m. Sundays on B101-FM and WPHP 1210-AM and at 6 a.m. on WOGL 98.1 and TDY 96.5. 

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