Death investigation prompts renewed talks on domestic violence

A Pike County, Illinois man is behind bars after police say he strangled the woman he lived with.

Local domestic violence advocacy groups are now using Monday night’s tragedy as a teaching tool for those struggling with domestic violence. 

Strangulation, shoving a sock down the victim’s throat. and pushing her off the couch. That’s what court documents say 63-year-old David Sampley did to 61-year-old Sharon Welch. The two weren’t strangers to the local police. 

"During the last six months we’ve responded a couple of times there obviously we know mister Sampley and Mrs. Welch but to that degree this incident completely came in differently," said Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty.

As disturbing as the details are, Judy Edmonson with Avenues in Hannibal says domestic abuse happens all the time. Click here to read neighbor reaction to the incident. 

"Too many individuals; men, women and children lose their lives to domestic violence homicides and it’s a tragic situation," said Edmonson.

Sampley was released from jail on a 2016 domestic battery charge on Saturday, just two days before Welch died.

While Edmonson says she doesn’t know the specifics of this case, she says that jail time can contribute to an aggressor’s behavior. 

"We talk about safety with the individuals we work with. We talk about making sure there’s somebody there with you if you’ve filed an order of protection, if you’ve filed a police report and he’s been arrested," said Edmonson.

Depending on what state you live in, domestic violence victims may or may not get the protection they deserve under the law. Edmonson says Illinois has one of the strongest domestic violence laws in the country. 

"In the State of Illinois, if somebody is charged with and convicted with a misdemeanor domestic assault/domestic battery charge, once they have that conviction the very next one can be enhanced to a felony, regardless to the seriousness of an assault," said Edmonson. "In Missouri, the difference is it takes two before that can be enhanced automatically to a felony."

Here’s how to help a friend who is being abused. Plus, here are some of  the warning signs of abuse. 

Quanada provides emotional, physical and crisis support for those who have been assaulted or abused. Quanada serves five counties in Illinois.

Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a statewide system available 24 hours.  

You can call their hotline at 1-800-770-1650 or text Iowahelp to 20121 whenever you need help. 

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