Latest Homicide Sheds Light on Growing Number of Domestic-Related Murders

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A Des Moines man remains in the Polk County Jail after being accused of shooting his wife to death over the weekend.

On Saturday, police found Mary Dudley dead inside her home at the Southbrook Apartment complex on the city's south side. The suspect is her husband Harold. He was arrested in Ames a short time after the shooting and is charged with first degree murder and burglary.

This death adds one more to the list of domestic incidents turned deadly in the metro this year.

In February, Ekrem Keco carried out a murder-suicide against his wife Rasema at their home in Des Moines. The couple had a history of domestic violence, and Resema had a restraining order against her husband at the time of her death. Then in April, Abraham Roberts killed is girlfriend, Agnes Yarlee, in their Johnston apartment. Sera Alexander is accused of shooting her step-father Anthony Hartman last month, and family members say she feared for her life when he came into her home unannounced, following years of physical and emotional abuse.

In many of these cases, police received little to no domestic violence reports until it was too late. Friends of Mary Dudley say the same about her death.

“Between 6 months to a year ago, she had come to me and told me she was ready to leave,” said Candace Cole. “Everybody just kind of wants answers, wants to know what led up to this.”

Victim advocacy organizations fear these types of incidents will continue to get worse following state lawmakers' decisions to make drastic cuts towards victim services.

“We did take a baby step in the right direction one way because we are working to hold these offenders accountable. However, part of that needs to be looking at their past criminal history and current behavior,” says Tiffany Allison, founder of the Soaring Hearts Foundation.

During the next legislative session, Allison plans to reintroduce a law that would monitor an offender’s behavior, rate them on their level of risk, and track them via a GPS monitoring system.

Experts also urge people to educate themselves about the signs of domestic violence. Allison encourages victims to utilize victim services resources, but also says people who are not experiencing abuse should speak up, ask questions, and seek help if they suspect someone is being abused.