A mom took a domestic abuse crisis into her own hands with fatal results. When Robert Vann Marshall threatened to kill his wife and children (allegedly) around 8 a.m., he was arrested, thrown in jail, and given an order of protection. Police described him as "irate, suicidal, and possibly armed," and he was found with firearms and narcotics. They released him at 1:27 that afternoon. Ten minutes after he was released from jail, 911 dispatchers got a call from his wife saying he was trying to break into their house. She retreated to a back bedroom where she shot and killed her husband 15 minutes after he left jail.
Police say they probably won't press charges because it looks like a case of self defense and because, duh, that order of protection they issued was apparently ineffective. If what this woman and 911 dispatchers report is true, then it's a relief to know she managed to save her life and the lives of her children. But it shouldn't have come to this.
I think it's insane that Marshall was released from jail in such a state. I don't know what exactly the laws are in Tennessee, where they live. But surely they could have found some way to hold him longer until he cooled down, couldn't they? And then there's that order of protection. McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy admits what too many other women have found out the hard way: A restraining order is "just a piece of paper." But he says it's "rare" that an order is violated.
Really? How rare? If you look at the statistics, it's not so rare at all.
According to the National Institute of Justice, a terrifying 60 percent of protective orders are violated within a year. (Statistics vary, and some research shows slightly lower rates.) So if a quarter to half of all protective orders are violated eventually, it kind of makes you think we should be doing more to protect families from potential domestic abuse.
Marshall's wife had every right to defend herself, and I'm glad she did. But what happened to law and order? Is this really the kind of world we want to live in -- a world of vigilante justice, where you have to take care of threats like this yourself? That sounds messy and irresponsible of us as a society. We can do better.
Do you think orders of protection do any good, or do we need something more?
Image via McMinn County Sheriff