New Report Released During Domestic Violence Awareness Month is Dedicated to Four Children in the Houston Area Murdered by Their Father
Austin, Texas — The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) today released a new report that shows the number of women killed in domestic violence murders in Texas. The latest statistics show in 2011, there were 102 women killed by their husband, ex-husband, intimate partner, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
The report released by the Texas Council on Family Violence and compiled from data from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas law enforcement agencies, Executive Directors of individual shelters and media reports lists names of the victims and gives brief accounts of their deaths.
The ages of the victims’ range in age from 16 to 78 years old. Five women under the age of 20 were murdered. There was one sixteen year old, two eighteen year olds and two nineteen year olds. The report reflects that 63% of the women killed were under the age of 40. However the four eldest victims were 70, 71, 74 and 78 years of age.
Five counties with large urban cities had the highest number of women killed by their intimate partner. Harris County, which includes Houston, experienced the highest number of deaths (23), followed by Tarrant County (9), which includes Fort Worth and Arlington, Dallas County (8), which includes the city of Dallas, Travis County (6) that includes Austin and Bexar County (6), which includes San Antonio. The report provides an analysis comparing a domestic violence death in a rural community to an urban one.
There were 40 family violence murder-suicides, 39% of the total fatalities in the report. Research shows that most murder-suicides result from family violence. In a national study, 72% of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner.
One particularly tragic case occured on Christmas Day in Grapevine in Tarrant County. 55-year-old Fatemeh Rahmati was shot and killed by her husband 56 year old Azizolah Yazdanpanah. He killed five other people including their daughter and son before killing himself.
“The analysis of the 2011deaths identified an alarming pattern,“ said Gloria A. Terry, President of The Texas Council on Family Violence. “While we are encouraged that we have seen a decrease in the number of women killed from 2010, we identified an increase in familicide — a deliberate killing of a current or former intimate partner and one or more of their children followed by suicide of the perpetrator. This is an annihilation of the nuclear family. In several other cases, the batterer killed not only his wife, girlfriend or ex-partner, but took the lives of other family members, friends and innocent bystanders.“
Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities is dedicated to Sean, Daniel, Miguel and baby Cecilia, four children in the Houston area who were murdered by their father in a multiple domestic violence murder-suicide. Jose Avila shot his wife Laura Gonzalez three times, opened fire on their children and then killed himself. The small community of Bay City still mourns this tragedy. Thankfully, Laura survived the near fatal attack.
Terry added, “The senseless act of violence stole the innocence of four young children and the young people who witnessed the incident. The deaths of these children challenge our collective strength, bolstering our determination to create a safer Texas and underscores the importance of continuing our support at the Texas legislature to support victims across the state of Texas. Honoring Texas Victims: Family Violence Fatalities recognizes these children and all Texas family violence victims lost in this tragic crime.”
The report serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it pays tribute to Texas victims by memorializing their story with a brief account of the crime. Secondly, this report focuses on key distinguishing characteristics of these most serious family
violence cases. By examining the circumstances leading up to the deaths and identifying common characteristics, we can influence community and policy decisions, inform response to domestic violence, and strengthen services to Texas families.
The report strengthens our collective communities’ resolve to end violence against women and girls and work earnestly to save lives. We encourage the media to contact their local shelter or domestic violence program to localize this report in your community.
Texas Council on Family Violence is a statewide organization representing a network of domestic violence programs that provide direct services to victims and their families, and serves as the voice of victims at the state level while working with local communities to create strategies