2 local murder-suicides are a sign of a disturbing trend

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Four people have died in two separate Aiken County murder-suicides. Both happened in just a 24-hour period.

The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office responded to the first Thursday afternoon on Summerhill Avenue. The second was on Pelzer Street on Friday evening.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline Organization says nearly 30 percent of women and 10 percent of men in the country have experienced some form of domestic violence.

In domestic situations where there’s already a gun at the home, chances for a woman to be killed with it go up by 500 percent.

The Aiken County coroner says both of last week’s cases were domestic and ended with the men shooting their partner before shooting themselves.

In South Carolina, there are 80,000 victims of domestic violence every year. That’s the 10th highest rate of female homicides in the U.S. for the last 17 years.

We spoke to the sheriff’s office and local organizations to find out how they’re working to keep tragic situations from escalating.

Georgia ranks just as high for domestic violence homicides over the last few years. Law enforcement and advocacy centers say they are working to change those numbers.

Purple covers the walls at Safe Homes of Augusta, where they work to prevent tragedies as we saw in Aiken County.

“Seeing what’s happening, it’s just really sad, and it hits close to home,” said Hannah Meagher, Safe Homes of Augusta.

That’s because she’s seen domestic violence first-hand in her home growing up.

“There were items being thrown in the house, holes being punched in the walls, clothes being thrown in the yard,” she said.

They’re only seeing more and more victims looking for help.

“As of right now, we’re at full capacity just like other domestic violence organizations are in our area,” said Meagher.

Over the past three years, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office says 8,142 service calls came through for domestic situations. Deputies have trained annually for those calls.

Capt. Eric Abdullah said: “We try to keep up to speed on all things when it comes to responding to domestic violence.”

The sheriff’s office says they work with local agencies to ensure victims are receiving help.

“We try to stay up to speed on keeping our connections alive,” he said.

They hope those agencies can reduce the number of victims we see.

Meagher said: “We want them to know there’s help out there for them and people that care.”

There are resources out there for you to contact. The Safe Homes of Augusta’s crisis hotline is 706-736-2499. In Aiken County, you can reach out to the Cumbee Center for help.

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