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Miami Bankruptcy & Criminal Attorney / Blog / Domestic Violence / When Domestic Violence Ends in Murder

When Domestic Violence Ends in Murder


To the families of domestic violence victims who lost their lives, the terror and misery of the abuse suffered will never be a distant memory. Instead, they will relive the moments of fear and anguish, asking themselves over and over again if there was something more they could have done to protect their loved ones.  The fact of the matter is that 4,000 women die annually in Florida due to violence from a current or former intimate partner. While protecting the vulnerable from this type of abuse is the goal of every family and many organizations, sometimes we simply fall short.

Startling Numbers 

Nearly 60 percent of the women who were murdered in 2017 were killed by an intimate partner or member of their own family. That’s six women every hour, totaling around 50,000 women every year. Eight in ten of these murders involve a current intimate partner, with a former intimate partner responsible for the majority of the rest. While a small percentage of these deaths occur during a moment of passion as aggressors lost control, the majority were the result of deliberate planning, monitoring, and stalking of intended victims.

Gabby Petito

When Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, headed on a road trip together, they figured it would be a great adventure and an opportunity to see the country. But when Brian came home without his fiancé, alarm bells went off.

It was late August 2021, and Gabby was no longer responding to phone calls and texts in her usual way. When Brian showed up without her back in his Florida home, Gabby’s family filed a missing person report. An investigation revealed that the couple had argued, and an onlooker reportedly saw Brian strike Gabby while they were in Utah. More evidence ultimately revealed that Gabby had been murdered by strangulation. Brian ultimately committed suicide, as well. Tragically, these young people, only in their early 20’s, were both dead before they really got a taste of life.

The Gabby Petito Act 

Floridians were stunned to learn the horrendous story of Gabby’s short life. In Tallahassee, the legislature got to work in response to her death. Senator Lauren Book, in consultation with Gabby’s father, put together a bill to address domestic violence, mandating the:

  • Police must conduct a lethality assessment using an approved Justice Office tool during DV investigations;
  • Multiple organizations, from law enforcement to DV advocacy groups, must work together to create policies and training programs in order to administer lethality assessments.

Legal Advocacy 

Domestic violence in any form is unacceptable.  If you are a victim, or you are concerned about someone you know, understand that the victim is never to blame. Importantly, there are legal steps that can be taken to mitigate the risks.  To discuss with Miami domestic violence attorneys who understand these situations and who will work quickly and quietly to provide legal remedies, schedule a confidential consultation with The Law Office of Julia Kefalinos right away.



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