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Decatur Police conclude murder-suicide was caused by domestic violence

Crime and public safety Decatur

Decatur Police conclude murder-suicide was caused by domestic violence


This story has been updated.

Editor’s note: If you are in an abusive relationship and don’t know what to do, contact the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit Thehotline.org. You can also contact the Partnership Against Domestic Violence crisis line at 404-873-1766 or the Women’s Resource Center at 404-688-9436.

Decatur Police have released additional information about a Jan. 2 murder-suicide at the Courtyard by Mariott in Decatur.

Ranie Overman died after her fiance shot her. Her killer, Gerald Loch, shot himself with a rifle after he shot Overman.

Six months later, Decatur Police released the full report. Deputy Chief Scott Richards said police concluded that Overman was the victim of domestic violence and she died at the hands of her abuser.

During the investigation, police learned Loch was restricted by bond conditions ordering him to stay away from Overman. Loch was arrested in November 2018 on domestic violence charges, most likely stemming from Loch’s abuse of Overman during the Thanksgiving holiday. During that incident, Loch used his elbow to strike Overman in the face. According to the report, Overman told police that she and Loch had a history of domestic disputes, but that the incidents were not always reported to the police.

Overman wasn’t Loch’s first victim. An ex-wife of Loch’s, who asked that her name be withheld, said that Loch had abused her during their marriage.

Far too common

Scores of people in Georgia lose their life to domestic violence every year according to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Overman’s death is an outcome that’s far too common according to local experts who help women escape abusive relationships.

Asher Burk, legal advocate for the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, said, “Usually in these kinds of murder suicide cases it’s related to domestic violence, in my experience.”

Jeffrey Brown, the VP of marketing and development for the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, pointed to a recent report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime that found more than half of women murdered worldwide were killed by their partners or family members. More than a third of those women were killed by a current or former intimate partner, according to Huffington Post story summarizing the report.

A report on domestic-violence related fatalities compiled by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that, on average, 130 Georgia residents lose their lives to domestic violence every year, most killed by a current or former intimate partner.

“These statistics also include deaths of alleged perpetrators, most of whom died by suicide after killing or attempting to kill the victim(s),” the report says. “Georgia consistently ranks in the top 25 states for the rate at which men kill women — and in recent years, often ranked in the top 10.”

Lethality indicators

The report also cites factors that could indicate when a domestic violence situation is likely to lead to a deadly outcome, known as “lethality indicators.”

Some of those indicators include a history of domestic violence, increasing severity of abuse, use of strangulation against a victim and alcohol abuse. The relationship between Loch and Overman included these indicators, according to police records and witness interviews.

One of Overman’s four daughters talked to Decaturish and said the family questions why Loch was able to own a gun, given his history of abusing women.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, in Georgia it is legal for people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and people who are subject to domestic violence protective orders to own guns.

The report produced by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence says guns make things more dangerous for domestic violence victims.

“Outnumbering all other means combined, firearms were the leading cause of death for victims in cases reviewed by the [Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review] Project,” the report says. “The presence of a firearm in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide, regardless of who owns the gun.”

The report called out state leaders for not doing more to restrict gun ownership by domestic abusers.

“Despite the often convoluted or complex nature of this issue, both best practices and recognized experts in the field view firearms access as the impact issue which, if addressed, would dramatically reduce the rate of domestic violence-related deaths,” the report says. “Individual communities have implemented recommendations to address the issue, but Georgia has failed to meaningfully address firearms access to abusers on a statewide level.”

To read the full report, click here.

According to WABE, a bill that would’ve prevented abusers from owning guns failed in the past legislative session when gun rights advocates caught wind of it. However, the idea has support from some law enforcement officials. According to WABE, “Nationally, in 2017, police officers were shot more often when responding to domestic violence calls than any other kind of incident.”

The Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Vic Reynolds, also supports disarming domestic abusers, WABE reported.

“If an individual has had a previous domestic violence situation, particularly a conviction, then I think there’s a very strong argument that that individual does not need to have a weapon,” Reynolds said.