Recent murder-suicides part of an increase in Wilmington domestic violence

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With two murder-suicides in just a month and an increase in domestic violence, Wilmington Police and domestic violence services are urging victims to seek help.

According to WPD, there’s been an eight percent increase in domestic violence in 2021 compared to 2020. Detective Holt Wooddell believes we could see than number grow as we inch closer to the holidays.

The most wonderful time of the year can sometimes bring out the worst in people. The Cape Fear and U.S. regularly see an increase in mental health concerns, suicides, and domestic violence.

“When people are together more often and around their families,” Wooddell said, “we do typically see an uptick in domestic violence cases.”

Two recent murder-suicides (one on Hearthside Drive in November, when a man shot his ex-girlfriend and then himself, and this week outside the Holly Tree Racquet Club, when Dimitre Dimitrov shot and killed his estranged wife and then himself) are adding to those numbers.

In Hope Harbor Home Executive Director Karmen Smith’s experience, these incidents never happen overnight.

“He didn’t just wake up one day and decide, well today’s the day,” she said.

She explained there’s typically a build up in cases like this, though Wooddell explained many cases go unreported.

According to Wooddell, “Sometimes we will have victims of homicides and murder suicides where there’s been no history at all.”

WPD and domestic violence organizations urge victims to seek help and the public to watch and listen for signs, especially if a threat is made.

“Listen to them when they say, they said they were going to kill me,” she said. “They said they are suicidal.”

Smith says murder-suicides can happen when an abuser loses control of their partner and is suicidal.

“In that mindset of an abuser,” Smith said, “they very well might decide I want this person, and if I can’t have them, I’m going to kill myself and take them down with me.”

According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, more than 70 percent of murder-suicides involve an intimate partner.

If you or someone you know is suffering form domestic abuse, WPD ask you to call 910-343-0703 or 911.

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