Amy Homan McGee was killed by her abusive husband while her kids waited in the car. A new documentary about her is now a case study of what not to do about domestic violence, says Roja Heydarpour.
Four years after Amy Homan McGee first fell in love with her husband, he killed her while her children waited for her outside their home.
“Someone call 911. I just shot Amy,” said Vincent McGee, as he stumbled out the door, but she was already dead. She was 33.
Their love affair started in 1997 in State College, Pennsylvania, where she worked in a home store; he drove the armored truck that picked up money from the shop. And shortly after they met, they had their first son.
Before they had a child, McGee started driving her to work and picking her up every day. He called the store incessantly. He checked her schedule to make sure she wasn’t working alone with men. Then there were the bruises that came from “softballs” and “falling boxes.”
But there was no way to connect the dots at the time. Amy’s co-workers noticed strange behavior, going so far as to draft a fake schedule to throw McGee off track. Amy’s parents drove her to the police station to get a protection order. But the incidents seemed disjointed, and no one realized that it would lead to murder.
Until Detective Deidri Fishel came along, albeit after the fact, and made a documentary about Amy’s experience. Fishel took Amy’s story and turned it into a cohesive timeline that clearly showed the danger signs in Amy’s abusive relationship—and more important, the number of times that police or other services could have intervened. Something that seems so obvious in hindsight wasn’t when Amy was in the depths of it.
Fishel now uses this story, which was funded by the Verizon Foundation, to train others to detect and help women who are being beaten.