Coventry murder-suicide prompts call for domestic violence awareness
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
At approximately 10:14 p.m. on the evening of Aug. 23, Coventry police received an emergency 911 call to report a disturbance at 6 Stage Road. Officers attempted to establish communication with the occupants of the residence without success. Assistance was requested from a regional tactical team.
At approximately 1 a.m. on Aug. 24, the Capital Region Emergency Services Tactical Team made entry into the home and discovered the bodies of 47-year-old Janice Lesko and 45-year-old Gregory Pawloski. Preliminary investigation by state police determined the deaths to be a result of a murder/suicide by use of a firearm.
On Aug. 26, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence issued a statement regarding the incident. According to the Coalition, the Coventry murder/suicide marks the sixth Connecticut homicide allegedly stemming from intimate partner violence since Jan. 1, 2013.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy and concerned that it appears to have been preceded by a well-documented and decade-long history of threats and abuse by Mr. Pawloski," said Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "We know that the ability for professionals to recognize high-risk situations that require intensive assessment and immediate intervention can be life-saving. As we work collaboratively across systems to enhance safety for victims and accountability for batterers, there is much we can learn from this heartbreaking story."
According to the Coalition, Pawloski had a history of domestic violence. In 2008, Pawloski's former partner, Kimberly Fontaine of East Hampton, testified before the General Assembly advocating for increased state funding for domestic violence shelters. She detailed the violence and threats she was subjected to while living with Mr. Pawloski. “Fontaine maintains that during their relationship, Pawloski was arrested on more than one occasion, threatened her and her children with guns, and that she sought orders of protection through the criminal and civil courts,” reads a Coalition press release.
Jarmoc notes that the death of Janice Lesko also presents a compelling opportunity to further consider statewide work around lethality assessment and interventions. The 2013 Connecticut Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee (CDVFRC) Report issued in July indicates a need for increased training across sectors to understand "red flag" indicators that may occur. The report also shows that guns are the number-one weapon used in intimate partner homicides in Connecticut. Between 2000 and 2011, 66 people in Connecticut were killed by an intimate partner who used a gun.
The CDVFRC report identifies several risk factors that can lead to domestic violence fatalities. These factors may include: an escalation of violence; the threat of violence against the victim or children; the threat of or use of a weapon by the abuser; or a recent break-up, separation or divorce. In instances such as these, victims are at greatest risk and should reach out to their local domestic violence provider to develop a safety plan.
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc. is a membership organization made up of the state's 18 domestic violence agencies. Help is available to victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each agency offers free services to victims including a toll-free hotline, safety through shelter, counseling and support groups, and by assisting in securing a restraining order. If you or someone you know needs support, call the statewide free and confidential hotline at 888-774-2900 to be connected to your local domestic violence agency. For more information about CCADV, visit www.ctcadv.org.