COVID-19 Linked To 112% Increase In Domestic Homicides In Texas County, Experts Say

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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Domestic violence homicides in Tarrant County, Texas, have doubled since March because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to experts, the Fort Worth Star-Tribune reported Monday.

Since March, 17 people have died in domestic violence-related homicides in the county that includes Fort Worth, up 112% from 2019 when eight deaths were reported in relation to domestic violence, the Star-Tribune reported.

“[The pandemic] creates the perfect environment for abuse to thrive,” President and CEO of SafeHaven, Kathryn Jacob said, the Star-Telegram reported. “Abuse is already something that happens in the shadows, and now everything we do is in the shadows.”

A woman in Tarrant County was strangled by her husband with an electric cord, wrapped in trash bags, and left for two weeks in April before her husband confessed to the murder, the Star-Telegram reported.

Susan Sudduth’s body was found after her husband, Joseph Sudduth, told his brother in Temple, Texas, about the murder and then attempted to commit suicide, the Star-Telegram reported. Her disappearance wasn’t noticed for weeks likely because of isolation caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This woman wasn’t being seen,” Jacob said, the Star-Tribune reported. “Because no one is being seen. That’s a really dangerous thing.” (RELATED: Domestic Violence Reports Rise Amid Coronavirus Pandemic)

SafeHaven is an agency that provides services to victims of domestic violence in Tarrant County, according to the Star-Tribune. The agency received reports of partners leaving weapons by doors as a threat against leaving the house, Jacob said.

“I feel really strongly that perhaps some of these homicides would happen regardless,” Jacob said, the Star-Tribune reported. “But the pandemic provides such an opportunity for an offender to offend.”

A grocery store employee was reportedly forced to sleep outside because a partner thought “they might bring COVID inside,” according to the Star-Tribune. Another was forced to wash her hands until they bled by her partner.

What a pandemic does is it isolates everybody,” Jacob said, the Star-Tribune reported. “Domestic violence victims get double the negative effects of the isolation.” 

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