NC domestic violence deaths up in 2012

Joan Lark
Joan Lark

In the early morning hours of Jan. 27, 2012, Joan Lark was found dead in her East Spencer home.

The 49-year-old had been beaten to death, police said, by her estranged boyfriend while six of her grandchildren slept upstairs. One of them discovered her body.

Gary Cureton, 55, who authorities said Lark had kicked out of her home, remains in the Rowan County jail awaiting trial.

Lark was the only domestic violence related death reported in Rowan County in 2012. However, she was one of 122 such homicides reported across the state last year. The N.C. Attorney General’s Office says that represents a 15 percent increase in domestic violence related deaths from the year before.

Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday 106 murders were attributed to domestic violence in 2011.

Of the victims in 2012, 78 were women and 44 were men. Of the killers, 104 were men and 18 were women.

“I have great concern about this increase,” Cooper said in a news release. “It’s clear that North Carolina must do more to stop domestic abuse before it turns deadly.”

Wake County, the state’s second-most populous county, reported 11 domestic violence murders, the most in the state. Mecklenburg County, the state’s most populous, was second with eight, followed by Guilford County, the third most populous county, with six.

Robeson County has less than a third of Guilford’s population and had five domestic violence murders. Other counties that reported more domestic violence homicides than expected for their population include Catawba, Harnett, Henderson, and Scotland counties, which had four each.

Beth Froehling, executive director of the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the information about the murders can help inform the development of policy and legislation to address the problem. The increase underscores the need for more resources for domestic violence victims, better enforcement of laws against abusers, and increased education and awareness, Cooper said.

Law enforcement agencies must report domestic violence-related murders yearly to the State Bureau of Investigation.

The attorney general’s report is online at

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