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Two deaths before Christmas highlight the danger of domestic violence

Lori Leath was killed by her husband in murder-suicide; Lauren Bolen’s husband charged with murdering her by strangulation

Domestic violence incidents around the holidays
Domestic violence incidents around the holidays

ROANOKE, Va. – Lori Leath and Lauren Bolen were murdered two days and more than 100 miles apart, but loved ones and community organizations hope their deaths unite people against domestic violence.

“People tend to want to box what a domestic violence relationship is and who it affects," said Amanda Holcomb of the Council for Community Services. "In reality, it affects anyone.”

Leath, 37, was shot and killed by her husband at their Halifax County home on Christmas Eve. Her husband then died by suicide.

“I feel pain for my niece who has to continue growing up without her mother over a senseless act, a senseless crime,” said Jay Hopkins, Leath’s former brother-in-law, in an interview with 10 News this week. “We’re hoping that talking about will prevent it from happening to someone else in the future.”

Bolen, 30, was found dead at her Hillsville home the Sunday before Christmas. Bolen’s autopsy revealed she had been strangled to death; her husband has been arrested and charged with her murder.

“Lauren would want me to tell anybody that in an abusive relationship, not to be silent,” Bolen’s friend, Hailie Cushman, said at a vigil in her memory this weekend. "Tell someone. Reach out for help.”

According to a report from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a third of Virginia’s homicides every year are related to domestic violence.

Holcomb and her organization educate people about the causes and symptoms of domestic violence. She said it is important for others to pick up on the signs because sometimes victims are unable to speak up.