The man who fathered four of her children gunned down Adoria Verser and then fatally shot himself on April 30 in Kansas City, Kan.
A day later, police found the battered and bloody body of Michelle Boldridge inside her Kansas City, North, apartment. A man she dated is being held on other charges while detectives continue to investigate the circumstances of her killing.
Both apparent victims of domestic violence share a trait with two other recent homicide victims: All were women.
Their deaths accounted for four of the five homicides committed during a recent stretch — an unusual situation considering that normally men make up four out of every five Kansas City area homicide victims.
So far this year, area police have investigated nine homicides of females. That’s 24 percent of the killings so far this year.
Last year, 18 percent of the area’s homicide victims were female.
The increase in the percentage of female victims comes while the total number of homicides has dropped 21 percent from this time last year.
Unlike men, the majority of female homicide victims are killed by someone they know, such as an intimate partner, according to national statistics. Women account for about 70 percent of the nation’s victims of homicide at the hands of an intimate partner.
That statistic is reflected in the 2014 local cases.
Of the area’s nine female victims, six allegedly were killed by someone they knew. In two of those cases, the suspect killed himself after killing the victim. In one case, a relative accidentally shot one woman. In another case, a man allegedly killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.
Circumstances in the three remaining cases are not known.
Though overall domestic violence cases have not risen, some who work with domestic violence victims say the degree of violence has.
“The real story of what we’re seeing are the levels of lethality increasing,” said Janeé Hanzlick, executive director of Safehome in Johnson County.
Another recent attack, charged as a domestic violence incident, came within millimeters of being fatal, authorities said. An Overland Park woman was stabbed in the throat by a man she lived with. He is charged with attempted murder.
Monica Mayberry, community advocacy coordinator for theRose Brooks Center
in Kansas City, said such incidents highlight the scope of serious domestic violence incidents.
“For every homicide, there are 1,000 more women on the verge of being killed who don’t make headlines,” she said.
Despite the recent and unusual run of female homicide victims in the area, advocates said that a “lethality assessment” program adopted in recent years by some area police departments has helped numerous women escape dangerous situations.
They say the program saves lives by allowing officers who respond to domestic violence calls to identify those most at risk of being killed and steering them toward safety and available services.
“Domestic violence homicides are preventable,” Hanzlick said.
Police in Kansas City have used the program since June 2009, said Mayberry, who works alongside domestic violence detectives.
Johnson County began the program in mid-2011. That year, the county recorded seven domestic violence homicides. There were five in 2012, and last year there was one.
Officers called to a domestic violence incident ask victims a set of research-based questions to ascertain the level of danger they may be in. If warranted based on responses to the questions, the officer then tells the victim that she is in danger and encourages her to seek help.
“The officer will call our 24-hour hotline and hand the phone to the victim,” Hanzlick said. “There is no doubt it is allowing us to reach women who may not comprehend the level of danger they are in.”
The need for such a program has been reflected in large increases in the numbers of those now using services, advocates say.
“It (domestic violence) is happening every single day,” said Stefanie Shanks, special events and public relations manager for Hope House in Jackson County.
Because the level of violence tends to escalate with time in domestic abuse situations, victim advocates say it is important to intervene as early as possible.
Mayberry and Hanzlick said that the women who are killed tend to never have sought services.
It is not known whether the women killed recently in the area had sought help for domestic issues.
Friends and family of Boldridge, 31, and Verser, 29, have said they knew of no problems between them and the men who killed them.
By all accounts, both women had steady jobs and close family support and did not engage in risky personal behavior.
Hanzlick said that demonstrated the unpredictable nature of domestic violence.
“No one is immune,” she said. “It can happen to anybody.”