I-TEAM: Domestic Violence advocate says Milford woman murdered by ex-boyfriend was let down by legal system
(WFSB) - The Milford mother, murdered in her home by her ex-boyfriend, did everything right trying to keep her and her children safe, according to domestic violence advocates.
Julie Minogue had several court orders that were supposed to protect her from Ewen Dewitt.
Did the system fail her? Some advocates say yes, others say it’s not that simple.
“Clear system failures:”
On a Go Fund Me page created to raise money for the three children she left behind, Julie Minogue shares a big smile alongside her boys.
Tuesday night, Police say Minogue’s ex-boyfriend Ewen Dewitt violently murdered her in her home.
Just last month, Minogue got a restraining order against him, saying she was scared he was going to kill her.
“There are very kind of clear system failures that just keep happening over and over and over,” says Danielle Pollack, the policy manager at the National Family Violence Law Center.
Along with a restraining order, documents show Julie Minogue had two protective orders for her and her children going back to 2019.
She says Dewitt sued for custody of their son, her youngest, and he got visitation rights, despite the protective orders.
“The way that abusers harm is usually via child access once they lose access to their adult victims,” says Pollack. “A lot of times protective parents are then put in harm’s way because the abuser knows where they live so they can’t keep their address confidential, and the abuser then knows more about the adult victim’s routine because they have a schedule for custody visitation.”
Pollack says the center is working on policy that would strengthen protections for victims.
“We really want custody courts to kind of catch up and be better trained on how perpetrators misuse the legal system, the tactics they use,” says Pollack.
STUDYING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITIES:
Since 2000, Connecticut has averaged approximately 14 intimate partner homicides annually.
Dan Cargill is with the CT Domestic Violence Fatality Review Task Force, a group that looks at fatal and near fatal domestic violence cases in the state. Here is their latest report.
The Task Force will eventually review Minogue’s murder, but not until the case has gone completely through the courts.
Over the years, Cargill says the task force has been able to change policy and laws.
“We’ve actually developed an investigative tool kit for law enforcement who may not investigate intimate partner homicides that often,” says Cargill.
But they still have work to do.
He says recently the taskforce found that while CT law enforcement do a good job of removing firearms from domestic violence situations, suspects are increasingly using other sharp objects instead.
Dewitt killed Minogue with an axe.
“How do we combat that; how do we address those issues that we’re seeing?,” says Cargill.
Cargill says very few of the victims had a protective order in place. “In terms of the fatalities in CT, there’s a very low percentage of individuals who have had a protective order that’s expired or currently have one that is active,” says Cargill. “Unfortunately, the responsibility lies squarely on the individual who’s making that decision to violate that protective or restraining order and then go forth to commit a crime.”
ALWAYS REPORT TO POLICE:
“I think, in the vast majority of cases, a protective or restraining order is effective,” says Neil Dryfe. “My understanding of what happened in Milford is that it’s an obviously horrific crime that took place in front of the victims’ children, it’s just awful. I don’t know there’s any one thing anyone could have done that would have prevented somebody who was willing to commit murder.”
Neil Dryfe, the president of the CT Police Chief’s Association, says victims should never be discouraged from getting the police or courts involved.
“No matter what the outcome of the police intervention, I think the victim is better off contacting the police and pursuing all the avenues they can to protect themselves,” says Dryfe. “I would encourage victims, particularly victims of domestic violence, to participate when officers are going through lethality assessment with them, to be an active participant in the safety planning the department is trying to do on their behalf.”
Dryfe says CT has made great strides in the last decade, to help and protect victims: “Everything from mandatory arrests in DV cases, lethality screenings and information that’s provided to the victim advocate’s office.”
If you need help or just someone to talk to visit ctsafeconnect.org or call or text (888) 774-2900.
Advocates are available 24/7.
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