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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Slayings indicate many women need help escaping violent men

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

MEMORIAL MARCH

The Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence will hold a silent march starting at Honolulu Hale at 5:30 p.m. today to honor two women killed in a vehicle pursuit and crash on the Big Island and a Pearl City woman stabbed to death on Saturday. The silence will symbolize the fact that more women have been silenced by domestic violence, said Carol Lee, executive director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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WHERE TO TURN FOR HELP

Domestic Violence Hotline and Shelters: 841-0822 (24 hours)

The Domestic Violence Clearinghouse and Legal Hotline: 531-3771

Catholic Charities Family Services-Domestic Violence Services: 535-0151

Child and Family Service: 532-5100

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Despite several highly publicized domestic violence-related deaths in recent weeks, people who work with victims say the problem is not necessarily on the rise.

But, they said, Saturday's stabbing death of a 39-year-old Pearl City woman, along with at least three other deaths over the past three weeks, illustrate the importance of domestic violence education and outreach.

"I cannot explain why there are these tremendous tragedies happening these last couple weeks. This is very unusual in our state to have this number of domestic-violence murders," said Cindy Iannce-Spencer, director of client and community services at the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse, which provides shelter and legal advice to victims of abusive relationships.

There have been at least five domestic violence-related deaths this year, according to the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

In 2005, there were four domestic violence-related deaths. Coalition officials also suspect that two other deaths that occurred over the weekend one on Lana'i and another on O'ahu may also have been domestic violence related, which would bring this year's state tally to seven.

Iannce-Spencer said one of the common threads that runs through most of the recent domestic violence cases is that the women were attempting to get away from the abusive relationship.

Zenaida Dumaslan was killed Saturday, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend, Ronante Aquino, police said. Aquino, being held on $150,000 bail, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder in connection with the death. Police found Dumaslan, "stabbed numerous times," lying in her kitchen, according to documents filed by city prosecutors.

The slaying was "particularly vicious," prosecutors said.

Dumaslan had sought a temporary restraining order in 2004 against Aquino, but she dissolved the order herself in 2005, court documents released yesterday said.

Janelle Nardin, who allegedly was run off the road by an ex-boyfriend on the Big Island, also had filed a temporary restraining order against him. She was injured in that incident. But her friends, Pua Lei Santa-Isabel and Casey Ann Swain, also in her car, were killed.

Carol Lee, executive director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she "can't make sense" of the latest spate of domestic violence-related deaths.

"The thing that we have to take away from all this is domestic violence can be lethal. We really need to be talking more about intervention, and we need to be doing it as early as possible," she said.

While Lee said she doesn't think domestic violence is increasing, she said it is very hard to know the extent of the problem.

"We do know that over the past few years, more people are seeking services, and we're helping more people," she said. But that may be because of increased awareness about the issues, she said.

The spate of deaths began earlier this month in Waipahu when a man shot and killed a woman, then killed himself. The man also shot his 14-year-old stepdaughter in the face.

Then, on July 16, Vernon E. Costa allegedly ran his ex-girlfriend, Nardin, and her two friends off Mamalahoa Highway on the Big Island. Both friends were killed in the high-speed crash. Costa is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, two drug charges and six traffic charges.

On Friday, a pregnant woman apparently fell from the cab of a pickup truck on Kamehameha Highway in Punalu'u. The woman, 28-year-old Delphine Haina of Wai'anae, may have been in an argument with her boyfriend before her fatal fall.

A determination of exact manner of death was deferred after an autopsy conducted yesterday.

The autopsy determined the cause of death was "cranio-cerebral injuries due to blunt-force injuries of the head." The medical examiner's office delayed a more detailed ruling until toxicology test results could be reviewed.

Police traffic investigators have requested assistance from the homicide unit to determine if Haina accidentally fell, jumped or was pushed from the truck. Supervisor of police homicide investigations Lt. Bill Kato said yesterday that police are still questioning witnesses.

And on Saturday, Ariel Aki, 15, and her 24-year-old boyfriend, John Kelly Etrata, were found dead in a field on Lana'i.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.