Community Works has called 2011 the worst year they have seen for domestic violence in the Rogue Valley. So far, 2012 has not seen a break in this current unfortunate trend.
In 2011, four cases and eight victims died in Jackson County since January. In November, Makaila Upton was killed in a domestic dispute, police say in a murder-suicide. In September, Jessica Bethany was murdered; Tabasha Paige Criado and her four children were murdered in July and Bonnie Payne was killed in March. All the individual suspects accused of these killings are ex-boyfriends, boyfriends, or husbands of the victims.
In March of 2012, Police arrested 43-year-old Bourne Huddleston after his wife, 34-year-old Kristy Huddleston, was found dead in their home. Police say the couple’s son, a ten-year-old boy, was inside the home at the time of the murder. Huddleston is now awaiting trial, he facing multiple charges, including hiring someone to kill his wife and possession of a silencer. Huddleston claimed his wife killed herself. Bourne is expected to be back in court for a pre-trial on May 21, 2012.
On the same weekend as the Huddleston incident, a couple in Eagle Point was also found dead and deputies suspect it was a murder-suicide. The two most recent cases have made the number of domestic violence-related deaths in Jackson County rise to 12, as of Spring 2012.
Community Works officials, who help abuse victims, say there’s no clear reason for the increase in our area. They say in most cases when domestic violence turns deadly, it’s because the aggressor feels like he may be losing control and wants to gain it back.
“When someone feels like they’re losing control over somebody, they’ll do whatever it takes to maintain that,” Community Works Victim Services Director Anna D’Amato said in an interview in April.
Community Works officials also say many times we look at how the victim could have helped herself, but they say we should also be looking at how the aggressor is acting. D’Amato says it’s crucial to not only pay attention to the victim, but the perpetrator.
“What are they saying? Or, there’s something there that you need to be tuned into, and worry about and then maybe report to the authorities,” explains D’Amato.
Medford Police say they have received more calls for domestic violence, but they say they do not know if that is because the number of incidents has increased or if it’s just more people are reporting them. In 2011, Medford Police report that there have been six homicides. In 2010, there were five. During the four years before, there was an average of less than two per year.
If you are a domestic violence victim, or know someone who is, Community Works has a 24-7 help line, that number is 541-779-4357. For resources on domestic violence, click here.