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Police report...

The following names have been changed in respect for the living:

"Police arrested a 51-year-old Paris man in connection with last weekend's shooting death of his live-in companion.

"Charged with murder, John Doe remained a prisoner of the Lamar County Jail Monday, ... and Justice of the Peace Larry Cope set bail at $250,000.

"Killed was 36-year-old Beth Smith of 1780 34th NE. Police said she had been shot in the head and upper abdomen Saturday night at her home...

"A .357-caliber magnum revolver suspected of being the murder weapon was found tangled in the victim's hair, police said. The single action revolver was cocked when it was found...

"There were other signs of a struggle in the room where Ms. Smith was found, police said.

"Police said they believed several people may have been in the house at the time of the shooting, though they said none of them has been cooperating with their investigation....

What the article didn't say about Doe was the following information:

He had a history of violent confrontations with the police at local barrooms; the police had been unable to make any charges against him stick, including DWIs, because of his powerful position in the town of around 20,000; he also had a history of alcohol abuse; he claimed he had been to treatment; he had earlier the evening of the killing been at a local club bragging about how he was going to beat his girlfriend up when he got home; and when the police found him less than 15 minutes after the shooting, he had taken a shower and was sitting on the sofa in his shorts watching ESPN on the big-screen television set Ms. Smith had given him for Christmas.

Doe was out of jail in less than a week.

What the article didn't say about Ms. Smith was the following information:

She had split up with Doe months before after she called the police when he tried to choke her 15-year-old son; after he got out of treatment, he convinced her to try one more time; a soft-spoken, gentle person who valued family above all things, she abhorred violence; she was deathly afraid of guns despite growing up with three brothers and a father who hunted; and she wasn't afraid of alcohol, even though two of her brothers had wrestled with addictions to this legal drug.

I knew Ms. Smith well. I helped raise her. Her death broke many hearts. Even now, almost a decade later, those of us who loved her can hardly speak of the situation surrounding her death without feeling the pain. Knowing Beth as I did, I believe she would hope that her story might spare someone else from a life cut short in such a violent way and that they would seek help before it was too late.

Part of the thought process that keeps people in battering situations goes something like this: "He/She was so contrite. Next time will be different."

And it will be. It will be worse.

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