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In wake of Franklin killings, a reminder of links between domestic violence and homicide

Robert Kuykendall
/
Flicker CC

The city of Franklin was shaken this weekend when a man allegedly shot and killed his intimate partner and their 18-month-old daughter.

The tragic events were the latest example of something that’s all too common in New Hampshire: Domestic violence is behind about half of all homicides in the state.

Authorities say Jamie Bell, 42, shot and killed his partner, Nicole Hughes, 35, and their daughter Ariella Bell on Saturday. Another child was also wounded. Jamie Bell was later found dead of an apparent suicide.

Jessica Vaughn-Martin is the executive director of the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire, which serves Franklin along with other communities in Merrimack County. She says the center often sees an uptick in calls from survivors of domestic abuse and concerned family members after such tragedies.

“The community has been traumatized,” she said. “And so we really want people to be aware that we're a resource for them as well.”

Domestic violence was linked to 105 homicides in the state between 2009 and 2021, according to the New Hampshire Department of Justice — just over half of all homicides during that time.

That included 51 people killed by an intimate partner and 44 killed by a family member. (The other 10 homicides had some other connection to domestic violence, such as an estranged husband killing his wife’s new partner.)

Six more people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides last year.

Vaughn-Martin said access to firearms is a major risk factor. While there are rules meant to keep guns away from people with a history of domestic abuse, she said it’s important to make sure they’re consistently enforced.

“Owning a gun or having a gun in the home where domestic violence is happening does make it more likely that a fatal domestic violence event will take place,” Vaughn-Martin said.

Guns were used in 10 of the 21 domestic violence-related homicides in the state in 2018 and 2019 — making them the most common cause of death, according to the New Hampshire Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee’s most recent report.

Vaughn-Martin encouraged anyone experiencing domestic violence to contactone of the state’s 12 crisis centers for support.

“You just have to know that you're not alone,” she said. “And if you have a concern, please reach out. And even if you don't reach out to a crisis center, please tell someone. Because, you know, dealing with that by yourself is really overwhelming.”

People experiencing sexual or domestic violence can call New Hampshire’s 24/7 helpline for free, confidential support. That number is  866-644-3574.

Information about local crisis centers and other resources is available on thewebsite of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.

Paul Cuno-Booth covers health and equity for NHPR. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Keene Sentinel, where he wrote about police accountability, local government and a range of other topics. He can be reached at pcuno-booth@nhpr.org.
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