Every day, our journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on the critical overlooked and under-reported issues important to all North Carolinians.
Before you go …
If you like what you are reading and believe in independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism like ours—journalism the way it should be—please contribute to keep us going. Reporting like this isn’t free to produce and we cannot do this alone. Thank you!
Last year, 73 domestic violence-related homicides were reported in North Carolina last year, according to the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
That number includes nine people from Western North Carolina, people like Victoria Jon Baptiste, 27, who was strangled to death on Jan. 12, 2011, by her ex-boyfriend, Eric Cornell Wilson, 40, in Henderson County.
Other deaths in Western North Carolina attributed to domestic violence last year included:
Vanessa Mintz, of Polk County, who was shot by her husband, Travis McGraw, on Feb. 19;
Trenton Scott, 4, of Buncombe County, who died April 19 from blunt force trauma allegedly caused by William Godfrey Hedden, the 24-year-old boyfriend of the child’s mother;
Melody Conger, 20, of Jackson County, who was shot May 13 by her estranged husband, Matthew Moore, 23;
Kevin Frady, 25, a friend of Melody Conger, who also was shot May 13 by Matthew Moore;
Rosemarie Kuhl, 48, of Rutherford County, who was fatally strangled by her husband, Darrell Shannon Kuhl, on July 24;
Brenda Williams, 42, of Buncombe County, who was shot by her ex-boyfriend, Danny Dale Gosnell, on Aug. 17; and
Jiya and Piya Patel, 8 and 4, of Buncombe County, who were murdered with a hatchet by their 33-year-old mother, Naiyana Patel, on Aug. 27.
Children are included in the report because they too are victims of domestic violence, said Judy Chaet, operations director for the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a statewide program that offers training and assistance to area domestic violence programs.
So far this year, 21 domestic violence-related deaths have been reported in North Carolina, including two in Western North Carolina.
On Jan. 5, Shelby Anne Wilkie, 38, of Henderson County, was allegedly killed by her husband, Michael Leroy Wilkie, 39. On Feb. 2, a murder-suicide was reported in Macon County in the shooting death of Kenneth Simmons, 71, and his wife, Francis Simmons, 71.
The last time there was a reported death related to domestic violence in Haywood County was Oct. 16, 2010, when Amanda Morrow, 39, was shot to death by her 40-year-old estranged husband, Michael David Morrow.
And across the 17 westernmost counties, domestic violence agencies served more than 8,000 clients in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
The now-defunct REACH of Jackson County responded to 287 calls during that year and assisted 609 clients, according to statistics offered by the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That agency is now closed, and victims can currently seek assistance through agencies based in Macon and Haywood counties.
The response for the 17-county region that year was:
Avery County: 181 calls, 190 clients
Buncombe County: 722 calls, 1,670 clients
Cherokee County: 5,784 calls, 736 clients
Clay County: 1,955 calls, 294 clients
Graham County: 83 calls, 205 clients
Haywood County: 435 calls, 686 clients
Henderson County: 501 calls, 794 clients
Jackson County: 287 calls, 609 clients
Macon County: 468 calls, 332 clients
Madison County: 817 calls, 392 clients
McDowell County: 244 calls, 360 clients
Mitchell County: 153 calls, 330 clients
Polk County: 2,376 calls, 160 clients
Rutherford County: 693 calls, 83 clients
Swain County: 840 calls, 215 clients
Transylvania County: 78 calls, 485 clients
Yancey County: 2,276 calls, 481 clients
The number of clients served by a program can include children in a household.
For more on domestic violence in Western North Carolina, read: