ANDERSON — The recent shooting deaths of a man and woman in separate domestic incidents in Madison County has created a surge of new clients at an agency that serves domestic violence victims.
Alternatives Inc. in Anderson reports its emergency shelter went from about 30 beds occupied in May to 45 in early August. The increase followed the June 9 slaying of Amanda Wiles, 31, of Lapel, allegedly by her mother's ex-boyfriend, and the July 26 killing of John Neal Shull Jr., 48, of Pendleton, who was a bystander during a confrontation between a woman and her estranged husband, The Herald Bulletin reported Sunday.
Kandi Floyd, a victim's advocate for Alternatives Inc., said she typically would get three or four new clients a week but received 12 in the week after Wiles' death. She said countless messages came in the day after the incident in Pendleton.
"People are now thinking, 'This really can happen,'" Floyd said. "And I think (Wiles' murder) touched people differently. He didn't kill Terri (Wiles), he killed her daughter in front of her. Anyone that's a parent was shaken to the core."
Court documents allege Roy Parmley bound Terri and Amanda Wiles' arms and feet with duct tape, said he would "take away something dear" to the mother and then shot Amanda Wiles in the face with a shotgun. Authorities have been trying to locate Parmley.
Besides having an emergency shelter, Alternatives operates an around-the-clock crisis telephone line, assists with filing protective orders, refers victims to resources and offers counseling.
Alternatives CEO Mary Jo Lee said the first step is for people to acknowledge they are victims.
"A lot of those that die at the hands of their abuser never experienced physical violence before their death," she said. "So many feel like they aren't really a victim and shouldn't call or ask for help. Or they will be apologetic. Abuse is abuse."
Christy Clark, Alternatives victim advocate in the Elwood area, said many victims don't realize the kind of situation they are in until they go through a danger assessment.
That wasn't the case in the shooting in Pendleton, about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis. It occurred a day after Claudia Bailey received a protective order prohibiting her estranged husband, Kenneth James Bailey, 59, of New Castle, from coming near her. Shull was a bystander when he was fatally shot.
Authorities said Bailey then opened fire on police as they arrived, wounding two officers. Bailey was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Scott Bertram, assistant police chief in Elwood, said law enforcement agencies are seeing domestic violence escalate.
"It seems that violence is occurring more often and is becoming more violent," Bertram said. "I would love the state Legislature to change domestic violence from a piddly misdemeanor to felonies. I think it could change a lot.
"These people have built up a tolerance to regular misdemeanors so now the violence is being stepped up," he said. "We are seeing more strangulations and where before an intimidation would be 'I'm going to punch you in the face,' now it is 'I'm going to kill you.'"