St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's investigators were in Lake Charles on Wednesday, as they continued questioning a man suspected of killing his ex-wife. Calvin Jefferson, 41, turned himself into authorities on Tuesday. The Sheriff's Office believes he killed his ex-wife Nicole Jefferson, 31, after a history of domestic violence. Jefferson could face second degree murder charges.
"Sadly, he was able to commit violence against Nicole on at least three occasions that we know of, that was reported, where he was arrested [in Texas]," said St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain, during a Tuesday news conference.
Those arrests were warning signs, according to Dale Standifer, executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. Their shelter handles 300 people a year.
"Part of the problem is women get kind of complacent and they'll say, 'Well, he's not going to actually severely injure me.' And what they don't realize is this may be the time that he just snaps," she said.
Nicole Jefferson had four children and brought the family from Texas to St. Tammany Parish. Late last year, Jefferson allowed her ex-husband to move in with them.
"When there's children, a lot of times, the abuser has more access and the mom will feel bad that the children are not allowed to see their father, or the person who has been considered to be their father," Standifer said.
In other cases, children can end up as the victims. On Tuesday, New Orleans Police announced that 21-year-old Micah Short lost his temper with his 2-month-old daughter and killed her, after she wouldn't stop crying. At the time, Short was already facing a domestic battery charge for an incident involving his wife in March.
"If you're living with someone who is violent enough to hurt you, I would question how wise it would be to leave a very helpless infant," Standifer said.
That is why advocates and law enforcement officials said it is crucial to find a way out of a violent relationship.
"There is help out there," Sheriff Strain said. "Get out of it because we see too often many times those violent relationships turn into a tragedy."
If you are in need of help to get out of an abusive relationship call the emergency hotline for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children at 504-837-5400. You can also call Safe Harbor on the Northshore at their toll free hotline 888-411-1333.