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

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Intimate partner violence typically involves serial batterers who commit the same acts over a sustained period of time, a trajectory that runs counter to what researchers know about general violent offenders, whose deadly behavior tends to diminish with age.

“If anything, [batterers] tend to get more violent over time,” says Angela Hattery, an associate director of women and gender studies at George Mason University in Washington who has written extensively on intimate partner violence.

Details emerging about Radcliffe and Zina Haughton suggest their relationship was at a high risk for homicide dating back nearly two years.

On Jan. 8, 2011, police were called to their home in the village of Brown Deer, a Milwaukee suburb, where police saw Radcliffe Haughton at the front window with what looked to be a shotgun. Zina Haughton told police her husband threw her clothes and bedding outside and poured tomato juice on her vehicle. She said her husband did not own any guns. The standoff took 90 minutes but did not end in Mr. Haughton’s arrest. Instead, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, police took the unusual step of asking county prosecutors to later charge Mr. Haughton with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, domestic abuse.

The charge was dismissed a week later after both Zina Haughton and a police officer tasked with identifying her husband failed to show up in court.

Police returned to the home Oct. 2 this year, once again in response to a call from Zina Haughton. Upon their arrival, they reported bruises on her face although she denied being assaulted by her husband, who was not home at the time of their arrival. She was granted a four-year restraining order against Radcliffe Haughton on Oct. 8, and last Thursday a court issued an injunction barring him from possessing firearms.

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