As Western New Yorkers start a new year, one trend Erie County District Attorney John Flynn hopes stays behind with 2019 is increasing fatal domestic violence.
While he could not point to a root cause for the uptick, Flynn says there were more than 10 deadly domestic violence incidents throughout the county in 2019. He says the average is about three or four per year.
Flynn spoke of the trend while recently discussing a deadly domestic incident in the Town of Tonawanda. Jose Ruiz, Jr. was charged December 27 with second degree murder in the strangulation death of his wife in their home December 9.
Equally disturbing to Flynn is that in some cases, like Ruiz's, there's not necessarily a lengthy history of domestic violence before an attack turns deadly.
"Sometimes, it goes right to homicide," he said. "Other times, there is years, months, of incidents that lead up to a tragic incident."
One of the constants are the numerous agencies available, providing emergency shelter, counseling and other services for victims. Domestic violence victims may be assisted with connecting with one of those services by dialing 211. (Click here for a link to Western New York 211's website, which provides a list of available agencies and services to support domestic violence victims.)
Crime statistics for 2019 were not readily available but according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Erie County recorded 3,529 violent crimes in 2018. That was a modest increase from the previous year, but a decrease of more than 260 cases in 2016.
"I'm not aware that overall domestic violence has gone up at all this past year. It just appears that the homicides have gone up," Flynn said. "Every case is unique. Every fact pattern is unique."