Nicole Volmer told her 15-year-old daughter, “I love you” and “Follow Jesus,” as she was drifting in and out of consciousness inside her home in South Austin last Dec. 8.
Moments before, she’d been shot in the torso while arguing with her husband, Michael Volmer.
An arrest affidavit filed after the shooting said the couple had been arguing when the conversation turned to an extramarital affair to which Michael had recently admitted. He got into Nicole’s face, and she kicked him several times before he grabbed his gun, the affidavit said. He’d threatened to shoot himself before, and he asked her if she wanted it to be over, the document said. He told police the gun went off when he threw it on the bed.
Nicole Volmer, whose husband was later charged with murder, became one of three women in Travis County who died at the hands of an intimate male partner in 2016.
The Texas Council on Family Violence on Monday released a report that pays tribute to all 146 women — mothers, sisters and daughters — who lost their lives to domestic abuse across the state last year. The annual Honoring Texas Victims report memorializes the women’s stories with a narrative of each death and an analysis of trends and statistics.
In addition to Volmer, Patricia Andrews, 61, and LaKeisha Nicole Glass, 39, died in Travis County last year.
Andrews was killed Dec. 10 when her husband, 68-year-old Vinton Andrews, shot her and then himself inside their home in the 7700 block of Whitsun Drive. Glass was stabbed to death by her boyfriend, Saladin McIntosh, 41, in the stairwell of their home June 26. McIntosh also took his own life, the report said.
Of the 146 who died in 2016 across Texas, 35 percent were wives, 32 percent were girlfriends, 18 percent were ex-girlfriends, 12 percent were separated wives and 3 percent were ex-wives.
Statistics show that 40 percent of the women killed in 2016 made attempts to end their relationships or were in the process of leaving when they were killed.
Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, in announcing the report Monday, said domestic violence is a tough crime to police because it often goes unreported.
“It is one of the harder crimes for police officers and police departments to address because oftentimes it’s occurring behind closed doors, in private residences, and we can only get involved and try and help if we are called or if we’re made aware,” Manley said.
Austin police have used a special team in recent years to follow up on domestic violence cases and check in with victims and offenders who have been issued protective orders.
“We’re going back to that residence where the victim, where the protected individual lives, to make sure that the violator’s vehicle is not there, or that we don’t observe the violator there,” he said. “Then we are proactively filing charges against them because we know all too often, with the cycle of domestic violence, that offender is allowed back into the relationship, (or) back into the home for many different reasons.”
On top of the challenges in combating domestic violence, Manley said Texas’ so-called sanctuary cities ban has created an environment where it could thrive.
“We have now created communities within this state, within this city, who may not be as comfortable coming forward to law enforcement if they need assistance because they are fearful that their status in this country could have them deported back to their country of origin,” he said.
Manley repeated his plea to Austin’s immigrant community, urging them to work with police and never hesitate to report crime.
According to the Washington-based nonprofit Violence Policy Center’s latest “When Men Murder Women” report, Texas had the ninth-highest rate of women killed by men in the United States in 2015.
The study offers a broader picture of statistics across the nation in its examination of cases in which women died at the hands of men.
Among the report’s key findings:
• 1,686 women were killed by men in single victim/single offender incidents nationwide in 2015.
• Of the women who were killed that year, 93 percent were killed by men they knew.
• “For victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (928) of female homicide victims were wives or intimate acquaintances of their attackers,” the report said.
• Of the 1,522 cases in which a weapon could be determined, a firearm was used 55 percent of the time.
Texas accounted for 213 female homicide victims, the highest number of any state. The state’s rate per 100,000 females was 1.54, making it ninth in the nation.
According to the report, the average age of women who were killed by a man in Texas in 2015 was 39. Five percent of victims were younger than 18, and 10 percent were 65 or older.
Of Texas’ 213 victims of homicides in 2015, 162 were white, 48 were black and three were Asian or Pacific Islanders, the report said, adding that Hispanic ethnicity coundn’t be determined on a national scale because of inadequate reporting and data collection.
For cases in which the victim-offender relationship was known, of the 93 percent killed by someone they knew, 73 percent (136 victims) were wives, ex-wives or girlfriends of the offender.
PER CAPITA RATES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
States with higher rates of women killed by men than Texas in 2015:
1. Alaska: 2.86
2. Nevada: 2.29
3. Louisiana: 2.22
4. Tennessee: 2.10
5. South Carolina: 1.83
6. Arkansas: 1.78
7. Kansas: 1.65
8. Kentucky: 1.60
Source: Violence Policy Center