Only one Texas county had more domestic violence murders than Tarrant in 2016

FORT WORTH - Only Harris County had more homicides related to domestic violence than Tarrant County last year, according to statistics released by the Texas Council on Family Violence this month.

The numbers specifically tracked “intimate partner” deaths — meaning homicides in which the victim’s spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend were the suspects.

Tarrant County had 13 in that category last year, the same as Dallas County, according to the report. Harris County had 28.

When factoring in population, Tarrant County had the highest rate among the three.

Bexar County had 11 intimate-partner deaths, while Collin County had six.

The Tarrant County victims listed in the report were: Heather Bruenig, 29, of Arlington; Asma Zafar, 33, of Arlington; Doris Andrews, 43, of Azle; Elizabeth Arellano, 28, of Fort Worth; Nicole Blahitka, 49, of Fort Worth; Jasmin Elizondo, 20, of Fort Worth; Irma Howard, 50, of Fort Worth; Shanna VanDeWege, 36, of Fort Worth; Blanca Vargas, 44, of Fort Worth; Martha Kate Wiant, 38, of Fort Worth; Amy Short, 47, of Kennedale; Neeta Kharabanda, 58, of Southlake; and Linda Martin, 55, of Southlake.

The prevalence of the issue in Tarrant County is part of why the district attorney’s office formed a specialized unit to prosecute intimate partner violence crimes this year.

The unit’s caseload isn’t just limited to murders. In fact, the most common charges it prosecutes are assault of a family member by impeding breathing or circulation, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault of a family member with a previous conviction.

“All of these cases have a common thread and it revolves around power and control,” unit chief Art Clayton told the Star-Telegram in August. “And any way you think an abuser would exercise that, we see it.”

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© 2017 WFAA-TV


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