South Carolina: Domestic violence deaths driving up homicide rate

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RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — One woman was stabbed and stuffed into a Rubbermaid container.

Another was shot and then taken to a wooded area near Eastover where her body was burned.

One woman was a victim of murder-suicide. A fourth was shot in her home.

All four women were killed this year, and police have accused a boyfriend or husband of the crimes.

“It’s horrific,” said Capt. Lancy Weeks of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s special victims unit. “I can’t fathom why someone would do that to another person, especially to someone they say they love.”

Because of those slayings, 2013 is on pace to be one of the deadliest years in recent memory for the county.

Between Jan. 1 and Wednesday, six killings have been reported in Richland County. During the same period in 2012, there was one, according to data provided by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Two of the six homicides involved men shooting men.

Columbia police have reported one killing this year, and that case is not related to domestic violence.

While Richland’s violence has escalated this year, domestic violence deaths always are a problem in the state, said Nancy Barton, executive director of Sistercare, an organization that provides services for battered women in five Midlands counties.

“While we are talking about Richland County, the issue of domestic violence is one we haven’t gotten a handle on in South Carolina,” she said.

Last year, the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., ranked South Carolina second in the nation in cases of women being killed by men.

The report, based on 2010 statistics, found that 46 women were killed by men, giving the state a rate of 1.94 deaths per 100,000 residents. Nationally that year, the rate of women killed by was 1.22 per 100,000.

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