2 domestic violence deaths in 2013

Apr. 02, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

While domestic violence-related homicides decreased across the state, Lee County reported two such deaths in 2013.

The North Carolina Department of Justice released its report on domestic violence-related homicides in 2013 this week, with the Sanford Police Department and Broadway Police Department each reporting a homicide. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office did not report any domestic violence-related deaths in 2013. No domestic violence-related deaths were reported in 2012 within Lee County, and one was reported in both 2011 and 2010.

In May 2013, Michelle Chevier was found strangled to death in her Broadway home with her boyfriend, Michael Terry Roop, her cellphone and vehicle missing. Roop later was arrested in Kentucky in October and charged with murder.

Izora Fields Murchison was charged with stabbing her husband, Samuel Murchison, to death in June 2013, and police reported at the time of the incident that they had responded to the couple’s Sanford residence before for assaults. 

The next court date for both Murchison and Roop is May 5.

There were 108 domestic violence-related homicides across the state in 2013, including five in Harnett County, two in Lee and zero in Chatham and Moore counties, respectively, according to the report. In the previous year, there were 122 domestic violence-related deaths in the state.

“It’s disturbing and tragic that people are still dying from domestic violence,” said HAVEN (Helping Abuse and Violence End Now) Executive Director Susan King. “The numbers are not going down.”

Chevier worked at the HAVEN domestic violence shelter, King said, and a group of HAVEN employees will be participating in a 5k race in Raleigh in her honor.

“One [domestic violence-related] death is too many,” King said. “It is preventable. We want victims to reach safety and to be able to make plans for their lives. And we want batterers to be held accountable. If that means batterers’ intervention or incarnation, we want people to be held accountable.” 

There were 98 domestic disturbance calls within the city and 604 domestic disturbance calls within Lee County, according to the records division of the respective law enforcement agencies. 

“We take it very seriously, and the officers are trained to take action, appropriate action, if they see any signs of domestic violence,” said Lee County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jeff Johnson.

The deputies work with the victims to provide resources like counseling or guidance on getting a domestic protective order.

“The majority of our calls are domestic violence,” he said. “It’s a high number of calls, and the officers never know if [the suspects] are going to be violent when they get there.”

Broadway Police Chief Todd Hinnant echoed Johnson and said domestic violence is a serious issue, and Sanford Police Capt. Harold Layton said he’d have to conduct more research before commenting on domestic violence in Sanford.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office also works closely with HAVEN to provide resources to individuals who are victims of domestic violence, Johnson said.

After financial and employment woes, HAVEN was forced to close its shelter late last year, but thanks to an $11,000 donation, plus other gifts and grants from the state, HAVEN has been able to reopen its shelter, resume paying its employees and restart all of its counseling, outreach and advocacy programs.

More information about HAVEN’s reopening will be in Thursday’s edition of The Herald.