Earlier this year Tonya Goble, 24, and her children, a 3-year-old and an infant, had left her husband Gary Studer, 31, due to the violent relationship. She moved in with her mother and stepfather.
But not long ago she and her children moved back in with Studer. On April 28, Goble’s mother Vicki Dewey, 52, came to the home and found the couple drinking. She persuaded Gary Studer to go to the store with her.
While he was gone, Tonya ran to the school across the street and used the phone to call 911. She requested a police escort to accompany her back to the home to retrieve her and her children’s belongings. Here is what was said in the call:
“He told me this morning that he would kill me if I ever tried to leave,” “He’s got guns in the house, and I am scared.”
The dispatcher told her that no officer would be sent unless there was an “immediate threat.”
“Ma’am, the officer cannot stand there and just wait just in case your husband comes back,” was the dispatcher’s reply.
So no officers were sent to the school or the home. Tonya called a friend who picked up her and the children.
Later that day, Gary Studer was seen leaving the Dewey home (mother’s home). Witnesses say he was covered in blood and he had the children.
Police found the bodies of Tonya and her mother Vicki in the Dewey home. Studer has been charged with two counts of 1 st degree premeditated murder.
The director of the 911 center has responded to questions about their lack of action. It seems that in 2005 a memo was sent to the dispatchers telling them not to send officers when abuse victims requested escorts to retrieve belongings from their homes. That policy was changed on Fri. They are now saying officers will respond to all requests for help.
The article didn’t say who wrote the memos. And I guess we will never know if police had responded, if anything would have been different. But certainly had they responded, they could have checked for signs of abuse on Tonya and the children. They could have checked for a reason to make an arrest, they could have put Studer on notice that there was police involvement and reminded him of the possible repercussions if there were more problems. They could have advised the couple to remain apart until they had cooled off. They could have talked to Tonya about a shelter and how to contact the local domestic violence agency. They could have advised her on how to get a “restraining order”.
Yes, it might have happened anyway. Or maybe Tonya might have decided to go to a shelter. We will never know.
I think a lot of this is due to the “honeymoon cycle of abuse”. Police do get tired of that cycle. They go to the same houses, for the same couples, and the same problems. And still the couples often get back together- sometimes before the bruises even fade. But here is what happens when they don’t respond.
This time it was overt. They got the call and didn’t respond. Many times it is not so open. They show up, they see signs of a struggle or wiolence, they say do you want to press charges, and the victim says no. They figure their job has ended, all that is left is to write up the report. For a description of the ‘Honeymoon Cycle of Abuse’ click here.
A portion of Tonya Studer’s second phone call to 911 is in the article. A description of the takedown of Stuber after the shooting. allegedly he first told the officer to kill him, then told him “heat of passion, heat of passion.”
Optymyst at Look Who’s Tattling Now has a transcription of the 911 call.
Jan. 8, 2007 Gary Studer was found guilty in the deaths of Tonya Studer and her mother Vickie Dewey. He was sentenced to several terms of life imprisonment.