We have a solid evening routine. I blast music while making dinner, and then we sit around the table to eat and discuss the highs and lows of our day. Buzzing underneath the symphony of happy chatter is the invaluable knowledge that we are stable and safe. After the dinner hour, my husband and I plop on the couch, flip on the local news, and my bubble of security bursts on a nightly basis.
We live in Central Florida, where family violence occurs at an astonishingly high rate. Last night alone, reporters shared news of four separate homicides. Joshua Ortiz may have killed his mother, Jacqueline Ortiz, and is currently on the run. Police reports indicate Ortiz battered his mother in the past. A trial began for Dwayne White, the estranged husband of Sarah Rucker, who is accused of stabbing Rucker in the neck and leaving her body in a dumpster. Rucker reached out to law enforcement several times before her murder and claimed she was, “as good as dead.” After a domestic dispute with his wife, David Mohney shot three of his children and then killed himself. Only one of the children survived and recently progressed from critical to stable condition. Bonnie Motto called the police after her son’s father, Ricardo De Jesus Barrera, locked her children in their room and broke toys in a violent rage. The police determined it was not an incident of domestic violence. Barrera returned to the home two days later and killed Motto, along with her mother, Julie Motto, in front of Bonnie’s children.
One domestic violence related homicide story is too many, but the sheer volume of stories that invade the comfort of our home each night serve as jarring wake-up calls that we are not doing enough to prevent these tragedies. Central Florida must stand up to offenders and demand accountability.