Domestic Murders -- A Challenge Nationwide

Two East Texas woman died at the hands of abusive husbands Sunday night.

The slayings happened within hours of each other. Faye Harris of Jacksonville died in the afternoon after her husband Michael Harris shot her while returning from church. Harris apparently had a protective order against her husband.

Hours later, near Seven Points in Henderson County, 40-year old Wesley Murray shot his wife, Celeste Murray (44).

Both men were arrested and remain in jail. But the tragedy that befell both woman is one the East Texas Crisis Center deals with on a daily basis.

Victims advocates say both weekend murders were probably committed with the same motive in mind -- power.

"When the abuser realizes he lost control, and there's nothing he can do to control the victim...a lot of times he perpetrates the ultimate power," says Evans. "That's where we are very fortunate here in Tyler to have a crises center, where people can come and be sheltered.

The murders reaffirm for Evans-Land that her work and the center's work are needed.

"Every time I hear that a woman is murdered, I get sick to my stomach," she says. "It just tells me, there's a lot more work we need to do."

Evans-Land's work includes speaking out against domestic violence and encouraging victims to come forward. But she adds, for many victims, getting out doesn't guarantee absolute safety.

"Many who are killed by their partners are killed when they leave or shortly after," she says. "That's the ultimate control."

Everyday staffers at East Texas Crisis Center are working against the statistics. But the numbers they face are alarming. The Center for Prevention of Sex Abuse and Domestic Violence says everyday three woman die at the hands of an intimate partner.

And in 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice classified 1,247 murders nationwide as domestic violence related. In Texas last year, 117 woman were killed by a significant other.

Linda says the disturbing stats won't change until the public's perception of battered spouses does. "Although there is awareness about domestic violence, we still live in a society that many times will blame the victim."