Sadly, we’ve seen similar stories too many times to count. Quite recently, with the death of actress E’dena Hines, granddaughter of Morgan Freeman, we used our Intimate Partner Violence guide to explain how Domestic Violence can turn fatal and how to identify the signs. Unfortunately, now we must revisit the topic due to the death of Mark and Debby Constantino. The paranormal investigators from the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures have both lost their lives in what has been determined to be years of domestic violence culminating in a tragic murder/suicide.
While Mark Constantino had recently been faced with kidnapping and domestic abuse charges and Debby held a protection order against him, police were alerted last week when Debby went missing and traced her cell phone to an apartment where Mark was keeping her captive. After a three-hour standoff with the local SWAT team during which Mark threatened Debby’s life, officials stormed the apartment and both of them were found dead inside.
While each case is unique, the couple’s recent estrangement did increase the likelihood that the relationship would end in fatality. As we discuss in detail in our complete Violence Against Women desk reference, studies have shown that women who have left an abusive relationship within the past year are nearly 4 times more likely to become a victim of homicide than other abused women.
This illustrates the complicated nature of leaving an abusive relationship. Though it is difficult to weigh the risks of staying in an abusive relationship against the risk of leaving and such a study has not been done, it is clear that there are legitimate fears that abused parties may face when leaving an abusive relationship. Still, statistically, the majority of abused women do eventually leave their partner and only a small percentage are killed.
Some risk factors associated with the murder of an intimate partner include a history of domestic violence, stalking, alcohol or drug use, and a history of violence.