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Murder-suicide highlights fears of domestic abuse during coronavirus pandemic

An apparent murder-suicide in Utah has left two people dead amid an uptick in domestic violence during coronavirus lockdowns, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Police on Friday morning responded to a report of domestic violence at an apartment building in Midvale, a suburb of Salt Lake City.

The report indicated that one of the tenants, Isaac Andre Renfro, 26, had sent someone photos and video suggesting that a woman had been harmed. The receipt of those images then forwarded them to authorities.

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Unified Police Department Detective Ken Hansen told the newspaper that the materials showed “there had been a significant issue inside.”

When officers arrived at the apartment, they asked other building tenants to shelter in place and then made contact with Renfro by phone. However, during this time officers heard multiple gunshots and Refro stopped communicating.

A SWAT team was dispatched to the scene and used a robot to peer into the apartment. After determining there was no movement inside, officers went in. They found the bodies of Renfro and Miranda Schachinger, also 26, both of whom had been shot.

The case is still under investigation, but police say it appears that Renfro murdered Schachinger and then killed himself.

Experts told the newspaper that stress from the COVID-19 pandemic may intensify abuse and domestic violence. Both the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and the Unified Police Department have reported an increase in domestic violence calls.

Jenn Oxborrow, who leads the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, said abusers have had a lot of control during self-isolation and she fears that as states being to re-open, that control may feel like it is slipping away.

“Reopening society is like serving abusers with a protective order. They lose control” Oxborrow told the Tribune. “It could get bad over this next week.”

To report domestic violence or intimate partner violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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[Feature Photo: Pixabay