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Posted on: October 29, 2020

SILENT WITNESS: Honoring and Remembering the Lives Lost to Domestic Violence

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As Domestic Violence Awareness Month approaches its end, let us not forget the many lives lost to partner/spousal violence and how lives can be saved going forward by speaking up and taking action on the victims’ behalf.

Four women are killed every day across the United States in acts of violence by their partner or spouse.

Unfortunately, Lancaster County has been the setting for numerous fatal acts of domestic violence – some of their lives were commemorated during a Silent Witness Vigil.

This year, the vigil was held virtually, with full-sized silhouettes representing the lost mothers, daughters and sisters. Two of the women were pregnant.

Also, two of the silhouettes represent males: a man and a boy.

The individuals were killed in Lancaster County in recent decades. (One woman, Laurie Zug Draegeth, is a Lancaster County native who was killed last year in Arizona.)

Honored were:

Ashley Boyce, who was killed in 2004 by her estranged boyfriend outside of a New Holland health club. The man also killed his teenage son, before taking his own life.

Robert Potter, who was killed by his wife in 2009, stabbed with a BBQ tool and beaten with a baseball bat in Lancaster city.

Allison Walsh and her unborn baby, Alexandria, killed in 2011 when Allison’s boyfriend shot her in the head at a Rapho Township home. Allison was seven months’ pregnant and planning to leave the man.

Karen Crowley, stabbed, beaten and burned by her roommate in 2007 in an East Lampeter Township home. The man crashed Karen’s vehicle as he attempted to flee the scene.

Tonya Fetrow, beaten to death by her boyfriend in Lancaster city in 2008. Tonya was then left in the driveway of a stranger’s home several miles away.

Christina Colon and her unborn baby, killed in 2004 when Christina’s boyfriend shot her after being informed of the pregnancy. Eight days after reported missing, Colon was found buried in a York County quarry.

Cortney Fry, strangled by her boyfriend and bludgeoned with a screwdriver. The man falsely believed that Cortney was having an affair and the couple’s two-week-old baby was not his. Cortney was found in a wooded area in Manor Township six months after she was reported missing.

Shadae Taylor-Brooks, shot and strangled by her ex-boyfriend in her Lancaster city apartment. Shadae’s sister recorded the man’s threats hours before Shadae was killed.

Mae Marie Davis, 17, shot by her boyfriend in a Little Britain Township home. Neighbors heard an altercation before gunshots.

Amy Matz, shot to death by her estranged boyfriend at his Caernarvon Township home in 2004. Amy had moved out of the man’s home a few months earlier.

Laurie Zug Draegeth, shot to death by her husband in Arizona in 2019. Draegeth graduated from McCaskey High School in 1996, before moving to Arizona.

Melissa Cowan, stabbed over 80 times by her estranged husband in Lancaster Township. Melissa, a mother of five, had appeared on a talk show weeks before the murder to discuss her husband’s controlling behavior.

Angela Readance, burned by her boyfriend at a Lancaster city home in 2006. She told paramedics who was responsible, and died days later at a hospital.

Yarra Hatfield Wilson, shot to death by her husband in a murder-suicide in Lancaster Township in 2015.

Samantha Heller, 17, killed in 2012 by her estranged husband, who deliberately crashed his car (with Samantha inside) on Route 283, then smothered Samantha on the roadside.

The vigil can be found HERE.

The Silent Witness Program was founded in Minnesota in 1990, and developed in Lancaster County in 2008.

A huge thanks to Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County and Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health for partnering on this very important project, now in its third decade here.

Remember: If a friend, co-worker, relative or neighbor needs help, this line is open 24/7: 717-299-1249.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; bhambright@co.lancaster.pa.us; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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