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24th Mar


Mapping the Dead – Women & Intimate Violence

Rest in Peace: Kayla Marie Beynon

The Huffington Post has published an interactive map, showing lives lost since Sandy Hook, victims gunned down in all manner of circumstances across the United States, over one thousand in a few short months.
The article provides a list of names, the date of death and the city and state where the murder or accident took place.

The map is splattered in red, symbolic of the blood-stained walls, the blood-soaked carpets and beds and pools of blood on kitchen floors where women have been found, slain by boyfriends, husbands, ex-partners.

Kayla Marie Beynon (23) was shot and killed by her husband, Zachary Robert Johns (23) on January 3rd in Jacksonville, Florida in a homicide-suicide. Her two year old son and their six month old baby boy are now orphans. Kayla had been thinking of leaving Johns.

Cynthia Goodrum

Narada & Cynthia Jean Goodrum

It began as an experiment. I clicked on one woman’s name and found that she had been killed shielding her daughter and grandson from the shots fired by her son-in-law. Her daughter and grandson were spared, as William Woodford killed himself after killing his mother-in-law, Phyllis Tarter (58) in Kentucky on January 14. I clicked on another; Jennifer Sebena (a police officer) ambushed and shot many times in the head with her own service weapon by her husband, Ben, an Iraq veteran, on Christmas Eve. And another: Cynthia Jean Goodrum (34) was pregnant. She was worried about her unborn child and her six year old son and filed for a divorce on December 29th. Her husband killed her the next day (December 30, the Feast of the Holy Family) and fled. He bought cigars and a new car that same day. On the day of her funeral, he killed himself.

Five hours later, I made myself stop on this trail of blood and tears. I had filled a small notebook with women’s names and their tragic stories. I had by no means exhausted the list but I was exhausted.

Mandy Courson

Mandy Courson

Jonathan Courson (26) killed his wife Mandy on January 4th, leaving their two year old daughter motherless. The story he invented of two intruders in their home was quickly proven to be an elaborate lie. Jonathan was arrested but Sheriff DeLoach of Baxley, Georgia planned to allow him to attend the visitation and funeral of his slain wife. “If it’s at all possible, I try to make that happen,” DeLoach said. “This is just something I do to try to accommodate. It’s his choice. I like to try to help inmates attend a loved one’s funeral.” At a community memorial for Mandy, her daughter released the first balloons in the air. I couldn’t help but remember my own son’s tears and dismay on the day his precious Winnie the Pooh balloon floated away into the sky. I was there to comfort him. Mandy’s daughter has no mother to dry her tears.

Memorial for Mandy Carter Courson

Memorial for Mandy Carter Courson

Some facts from U.S. Senator Merkley: “The Violence Against Women Act: Oregon Report:”

Over 40 Oregonians were killed by domestic violence in 2012.
Slain women and children were all killed by a male perpetrator.
Since January 2009, over 150 Oregonians died as a result of domestic violence. At least ten of these victims were children.
On average each year, deaths related to domestic and family violence comprise at least 25% of all violent deaths in Oregon.

So many grieving children, families, communities. So many beautiful smiles and shining eyes – lights gone out in the lives of those who needed them most, their children.
So much blood spilled.

Perhaps the Huffington Post would be so good as to publish a list each week with the photos of the women and children who have died in the U.S. in the last seven days – victims of intimate violence – linking us to their stories so that we can know and remember and pray and act on their behalf.

Today I offer this blog post. Tomorrow I will write to the Huffington Post. I’ll call Senator Merkley to say thanks. And I will continue to believe that together we can eradicate the global pandemic of violence against women and children by changing the culture of domination from which it springs. If you haven’t done so, please visit the website for the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence and the Center for Partnership Studies.

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