By: Todd Unger
FT. WORTH, TX – The recent disappearances of three young women with deep ties to North Texas are raising concerns for women’s advocates, especially those that focus on violence and domestic abuse.
In mid-September, 24-year-old Jackie Vandagriff’s body was found after she went missing from a Denton bar. The suspect in that case, Charles Bryant, has a history of stalking and other crimes, according to police.
Last week, 25-year-old Typhenie Johnson disappeared outside of her east Fort Worth apartment after she broke up with her boyfriend. Police have arrested the ex-boyfriend for kidnapping, and despite massive search efforts, the young woman has yet to be located.
Those cases, along with the mysterious disappearance of a 22-year-old from Keller some 400 miles away at Sul Ross State University, are troubling, according to victim’s advocates.
“My hope when I see these stories is we can just see things sooner, or catch it sooner,” said Sarah Julien, a domestic violence survivor.
She is part of a large conference this week at Fort Worth’s family justice center, One Safe Place.
More than 70 doctors, cops, advocates, and survivors are trying to highlight abuse and violence toward women.
“People can start off as very charming and lovable. And what you think is love can slowly start to really increase,” said Gael Strack, the CEO of Alliance for HOPE International, which is hosting the conference.
The focus here this week is on domestic violence — primarily warning signs, like strangling — as October is domestic violence awareness month.
But experts acknowledge even a chance encounter at a bar or a night out in a university town with friends can potentially be just as dangerous.
The cases mentioned above are all unique. The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Zuzu Verk in Alpine remain especially unclear, although police think she may be endangered.
Julien says she has started speaking out about her own experience as a victim because she wants other young women to know there are resources and options to stay safe, no matter the situation or scenario.
“Women need to think, ‘I have the power to reach this person. I have the power to help them,” she said.
Article Source: Recent violence, disappearances of young women worry advocates
By: Todd Unger