Last week, the Pittsburgh region was shocked by the news that a local woman had been murdered by her husband. Domestic violence homicide is unfortunately not a rare occurrence in Pennsylvania, with 146 deaths due to intimidate partner violence (113 victims, 33 perpetrators) in 2015 alone. But the facts of this case were particularly disturbing, as the victim’s husband was out on bail after kidnapping and torturing her for nearly two weeks earlier in the summer.
Tierne Ewing was murdered by her husband, a man whose name we will not print on our page. On June 26, 2016, he kidnapped her and imprisoned her, assaulting and torturing her until she managed to escape on July 8. He was arrested and charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, false imprisonment and other crimes, but made the relatively low bail amount of $100,000 on July 11. Prosecutors asked him to be kept in jail due to the serious nature of what he had done, but Judge Gary Gilman freed him, ordering that he be confined to his home without weapons and wear an electronic ankle bracelet. He removed that bracelet on August 30, kidnapped Tierne and killed her. According to Tierne’s father, he had a history of severely assaulting her — and Tierne was scared that he would eventually kill her. Tragically, her prediction came true last week.
Tierne’s case highlights serious flaws in our justice system. A man who kidnaps and holds his wife captive while abusing her should not be released on $100,000 bail. An electronic monitoring bracelet should not be so easily removed that a man can just cut it off and then drive away to abduct and kill his wife.
We need better domestic violence laws — ones that recognize the gravity of the crime. We need better enforcement of these laws, and a judiciary that understands the nature of domestic violence. We need better funding for and support of organizations that advocate for victims of domestic violence. We need a fundamental change in our culture so that violence against women is not seen as normal or expected.
Tierne’s death is a tragedy, and it was a preventable one. We must learn from this so that no other woman, child or man loses their life in this manner.
Our thoughts are with Tierne’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.