Watertown Murders Mark Common Domestic Violence Trend | Connecticut Public Radio

Watertown Murders Mark Common Domestic Violence Trend

Dec 5, 2019

Campaigners against domestic violence say the incident in Watertown, in which two teenagers were shot to death by their mother’s boyfriend, represents a too-common trend.

Watertown police say that 16-year-old Sterling Jette Jr. and 15-year-old Della Jette were killed Tuesday night by Paul Ferguson -- who then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Also according to police, Ferguson was a convicted felon who should not have had access to a weapon.

Ferguson was found guilty of felony larceny five years ago. A 2016 state law made it illegal for convicted felons to possess a gun.

But somehow, Ferguson managed to have a gun to commit this crime. 

“Sadly, we know that access to a firearm in a domestic violence situation increases the chance of homicide by five times,” said Karen Jarmoc, the CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “So even when someone in this particular circumstance should legally have not had access to a firearm, they still had access in their own ways and that, sadly, created a heightened opportunity for there to be a domestic violence homicide.”

Lauren Sardi, associate professor of sociology and director of women’s studies at Quinnipiac University, said such events  -- where children are harmed or murdered by a parent or unrelated adult in their own household -- happen regularly throughout the United States.

“This case is sadly representative of a number of risk factors present: an adult with a criminal record who, although not legally allowed to own firearms, had access to them and who lived with children in the same house,” said Sardi in a statement.

“Children, who are among the most vulnerable members of our population, deserve far better than this,” she went on. “There are a number of socioeconomic factors that affect one’s overall risk which paints a more complicated picture of why these trends continue to remain stable over time.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicide as the third to fifth most frequent cause of death among children under the age of 18, depending upon the specific age group. 

CCADV's Jarmoc says that this incident brings to 13 the number of deaths related to domestic violence in Connecticut this year.