Omahans gathered for a domestic violence candlelight vigil on Tuesday night, just hours after a Council Bluffs woman was killed during an apparent domestic dispute.
Domestic violence survivor Heather Duhachek, 35, called for better protection of victims as a crowd of 50 people stood in front of the Douglas County Courthouse.
She said protection is what Millisa Cox, who was fatally shot at her home Tuesday, needed. Duhachek pointed out that Cox's husband, Darwin, had been charged with domestic abuse in September.
“Why is he able to even be near her a month later to kill her?” Duhachek said.
“There's a problem, and until we all stand together and do something about it, it's going to continue to be a problem.”
Duhachek said she lives in fear because her ex-husband was released from prison in July, two years and four months after he brutally beat her in front of her children.
She doesn't understand how he could be back living in society so soon after he nearly killed her. She blames Nebraska's good-time law that lets inmates shorten their sentences.
“I spend every day of my life looking over my shoulder now because he's out, but we live in our own prison now,” she said. “Until we protect the victims, this cycle is never going to break.”
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said he wants victims to know the justice system will be there for them when they need support.
Kleine said he remembers the cases of domestic violence his office has prosecuted over the years.
“When those victims seek justice, when they seek our help, we need to be there for them,” Kleine said. “We need to let them know there is hope.”
The Domestic Violence Council and other organizations sponsored the second annual vigil.
Tara Muir, the council's executive director, said the group wants to improve its work with public agencies and service providers to make sure they are doing everything possible to keep victims safe and to hold offenders accountable.
“Our community must have an effective response to domestic violence which emphasizes core support services for victims and a community willing to work collaboratively to end abuse,” Muir said.