Speakers included Marianne Hemmeter, an attorney with the office of the Attorney General of Ohio. Hemmeter has extensive experience prosecuting sexual assaults and other crimes of violence across the state. She talked about a team approach to investigating and prosecuting crimes involving strangulation, investigation by law enforcement, prosecution strategies, case studies, and how to bring felony charges.
* John Radabaugh, a Detective Sergeant for the Delaware Ohio Police Department and member on the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Sexual Assault Response Training Team, talked about forensic photography. Radabaugh provided the professionals responsible for photographing victims or crime scenes an understanding of the necessary elements needed to produce photos that may be applied to legal proceedings.
Ruth Downing, a family nurse practitioner and founder of Forensic Healthcare Consulting, organized this event. Downing talked about the lethality of strangulation, the physiological effects of strangulation, the signs and symptoms of strangulation, medical evaluation, and the documentation of injuries.
A representative from the Department of Youth Services and Victim Services shared her survivor’s account on the impact of strangulation. She is a survivor of a brutal sexual assault and strangulation that brought to life what it means to be a victim of violent crime. The victim shared her severe trauma story with the attendees. The victim said, “I survived my own murder.”
Ruth Downing said that 90 percent of strangulation cases had a domestic violence history, children were present during 50 percent of the cases and 99 percent of suspects were men. Although, a woman can also strangle a man.
“Strangulation is a red flag,” according to Downing. “A woman with a history of nonfatal strangulation is seven times more likely to become a victim of homicide. Intimate partners who have been victims of attempted or actual femicide had a 45 percent history of ‘choking’ versus 10 percent of other abused women.”
Downs also said that 95 percent of the perpetrators who kill cops had a history of domestic violence and strangulation. Strangulation accounts for 10 percent of all violent deaths in the United States.
“Strangulation is devastating to a victim because the act leaves an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and vulnerability,” said Downs. “It is a haunting experience when you realize you barely survived and it is frightening to know that someone who loves you is willing to kill you. Victims retain an ever-threatening and ever present sense of evil and a constant feeling of terror, danger and doom.”
The presenters of the strangulation seminar wanted those in attendance to leave with an increased awareness of the potential lethality of strangulation in hopes of increasing victim safety, increasing offender accountability for the crimes they commit. Sharing this information with others should prevent future homicides.