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Wisconsin spa killings: Shooting followed tragic script of domestic violence (+video)

The events leading up to Radcliffe Haughton killing his wife, two other women, and himself at a Wisconsin spa followed a familiar path: threats, a restraining order, and police visits to their home.

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The circumstances involved in a mass killing outside Milwaukee on Sunday correspond to what many already know about domestic partner abuse: The signs are often as clear as day that the situation will one day turn deadly.

Radcliffe Haughton shot seven women, killing three, and then himself at a spa in Brookfield, Wis., a suburb west of Milwaukee, Sunday. One of the victims is Zina Haughton, his estranged wife. In her recent application for a restraining order, Ms. Haughton said her husband “said he would kill me if I left him or ever contacted the police.”

The shooting took place three weeks into what the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence recognizes as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to a survey on criminal victimization conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and released last week, the number of incidents of domestic violence jumped 20 percent in 2011, from 1.1 million to 1.4 million, over the previous year. Between 2002 and 2011, these same incidents increased 3 percent. The data does not track homicides.

The large majority of these assaults are classified as intimate partner violence, a subset designation addressing violence between current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends. In 2011 alone, intimate partner violence accounted for 63 percent of domestic violence incidents. Even though violence between partners increased 10 percent from 2010 to 2011, it was still down 8 percent from 2002.

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