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Elizabeth Jones with her nephew, Isaiah. Jones is raising Isaiah after his mother was killed by her domestic partner in a murder-suicide in Paris, Tenn. Photo: John Partipilo. As you transition from Stewart County to Henry County, vibrant emerald-colored trees, some still blooming with pink flowers despite spring being long gone, line the sides of Highway 79, and the water goes as far as you can see.

Less than 20 miles further, the town of Paris begins. A long row of both old and new businesses and homes border the highway until you arrive in the downtown area, which is streaked with railroad tracks. Three weeks earlier, on May 12, the Paris Police Department responded to a domestic violence call at the apartment complex where Amanda Mercer lived. Amanda, 45, and Bobby, 48, were separated and going through a divorce. According to police reports, Bobby had showed up at her apartment, and when Amanda opened the door, he put his hands around her neck and threw her to the ground.

Bobby had shot Amanda multiple times and then barricaded himself inside the business. He had also shot and killed Cindy Townsend, an employee who had made the first call. He was discovered with a gunshot wound to the head. Amanda had worked at Indoor Comfort since they opened it in This is not something that just happened overnight.

And we feel a lot of guilt because she did stay for us for a long time. However, Herndon says, her mother never even made it to court to get the order because the coronavirus continually pushed the court date back. Along with experiencing more severe outcomes of domestic violence, research shows that victims in rural areas are less likely to seek help.

Nicole Knickmeyer, a d psychologist and chair of the psychological science and counseling department at Austin Peay State University, attributes that to the isolation, but also to how tight-knit some communities are, where everyone knows everyone else.

People don't believe the woman because everybody else in the town sees a man that's doing really good for himself. It serves 19 counties on the western side of the state. Brancy White is its Henry County domestic violence response manager. For instance, despite their deaths, WRAP still will not say whether or not Jessica or Amanda received services with them. In order for victims to feel that it is safe to seek help, it has to be a community-based effort. Henry County Mayor Brent Greer did not respond to multiple requests for comment about domestic violence in his county. Survivors may not know about advocacy organizations like WRAP or about legal services that are available to them.

And among law enforcement, confusion and misinformation is easier to find. WRAP can then offer resources like safe housing or transportation, and then they follow up with the victim later. Law enforcement officers also send referrals to WRAP, so advocates can touch base with anyone they think might need it. The Paris Police Department does not have an agreement with WRAP to use the lethality assessment questionnaire, though White says she does hope to get that implemented eventually.

According to Capt. They also have a patrol unit that has a phone to the Tennessee statewide mental health crisis hotline stickered on the outside of the car. Jenkins says officers do 40 hours of in-service training every year, including domestic violence training, with Virtual Academy. If a primary aggressor is identified, they are arrested and charged and held for a mandatory hour cooling off period. James says that within that time, the aggressor will have a bond hearing with a judicial commissioner, who will go over bond conditions, like the ones placed on Robert Mercer.

The arrested person must off on the bond conditions in order to be released. Also during that time, officers will talk to victims about what options are available to them. The Paris Police Department gives a victims rights form to domestic violence victims after an arrest is made or a warrant is filed. Along with information about the initial court date for the aggressor, the form, which the Tennessee Lookout reviewed, has phone s and resources for victims on where they can go or who they can contact to receive help. It does include a phone for a shelter called Damascus Road House.

At the end of that phone line is Marian Paschall, who says she is the executive director of Damascus Road, an agency that ended its domestic violence services. According to Paschall, Damascus Road closed the domestic violence part of its program over four years ago and now serves only people with disabilities. The form also lists two other s described as domestic crisis line s for assistance. One of the s le to a domestic violence hotline for victims in the state of Georgia.

The other le to a place called Haven House , which is also based in Georgia. Asked about these discrepancies, James said he believed Damascus Road was still operating, but at an undisclosed location, and Assistant Chief Rick Watson said as far as he knew, it was still open.

As for the Georgia s, both officers were surprised to hear that they led to an out-of-state hotline. Another area of confusion is when it comes to protection orders after a domestic violence call. Jenkins said he believed that when a person is arrested for domestic violence, a day ex-parte order of protection is automatically granted statewide.

But Jenkins is wrong. According to Randy Hampton, the VOCA Victims of Crime Act managing attorney for West Tennessee Legal Services , while bond conditions for an arrested aggressor to get out of jail often include a no contact order, that does not mean an ex-parte order of protection is automatically given.

Victims can go to the courthouse and apply for an ex-parte, or temporary, order of protection. A judge or sometimes a clerk must find that the order is warranted and approve it. West Tennessee Legal Services has attorneys across western Tennessee, with each one serving several counties. If a victim needs to leave the area immediately, WRAP has people in the community they can call to help offer a ride, or maybe another agency can help them get a hotel room for the night.

WRAP partners with churches for assistance and receives donations of food, clothing, and hygiene items from people in the area. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics. Celia Darrough is a freelance journalist based in Clarksville. She is the former senior news editor for Bustle and has also written for Mic, Refinery29, and Thrillist.

You can follow her on Twitter at celiadarrough. By: Celia Darrough - October 7, am. Bobby and Amanda Mercer photographed at their wedding. Photo: Jessica Herndon According to police reports, Bobby had showed up at her apartment, and when Amanda opened the door, he put his hands around her neck and threw her to the ground.

Amanda Mercer. Phone s given to domestic violence victims in Henry County lead to programs in Georgia, six hours away. Celia Darrough Celia Darrough is a freelance journalist based in Clarksville. Nashville's lone legislative Republican exits stage left by Rob Dobie January 4,

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