It is a story we've all seen before. Domestic violence is a daily fact of life for the countless women and children who are most often its victims. Most of their stories never see the light of public exposure. When disputes turn lethal, however, we're reminded just how dangerous troubled relationships can become even after they are over.
Thirty six year old Shelby Joanette had left her husband in Southern Nevada, coming home to her parents' house in Fernley, filing for divorce, hoping to rebuild her life after the breakup of her marriage. That hope ended Saturday morning on a rural road outside Fernley. She had gone to care for her horses and had called her father to say her truck had broken down. He arrived to find Shelby lying next to it, shot twice in the head. She was flown to Renown Medical Center in critical condition and a short time later police had issued a bulletin for her estranged husband, 36 year old Michael Newcastle. He was arrested that night near Beatty.
Like Joanette, Regina Clements may have thought she had survived the worst of the end of her marriage. Her contentious divorce from her engineer husband Richard was final in December. The two had settled on shared custody of their 12 year old daughter, but he was apparently upset that he was not getting enough visitation time with his child. Perhaps it is the reason that he followed her to a Carson City strip mall, shot her in the head then turned the gun on himself.
Neither woman nor their friends and family may have understood the danger they faced.
Joni Kaiser says when the Committee to Aid Abused Women set up shop nearly 30 years ago, she expected over time the issue would be addressed and solved. Instead she still sees a steady stream of women seeking help, and all too often disputes that end in lethal violence.
Confrontations are more likely to turn deadly here. Nevada ranks 5th among the states in homicide rates from domestic violence. That appears to be related to the rate of gun ownership here. The other states in the top 5, like Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming also have a high number of gun owners. Where lethal means are at hand, they are more likely to be used.
Joanette's shooting remains under investigation. Newcastle has been charged with attempted murder. His guilt or innocence will be determined in court. He's being held in Nye County and should be returned to Lyon County by the end of the week.