A nice normal family

Joseph and Vincenza Importuna had been married for approximately 15 years. They had two young children, a 9 year old girl and a 4 year old son. He was part owner of a pizzeria and she was employed as a real estate agent. They had purchased and moved into their home in September. Vincenza Importuna's father had been staying with them, but had returned to his home earlier on Monday. Neighbors who say they didn't know them well, say they appeared to be a nice, normal family.

Last week Joseph received a letter telling him his wife was taking steps to obtain a divorce. However, court records do not show that she had actually filed for the divorce yet. It is not known if there was any history of domestic violence in the home.

 About 4:45 pm, Joseph took the two children to his brothers home and said that he needed to speak to his wife privately.

Police say that he returned to the home and shot his wife in the chest, then shot himself in the chest.

Joseph's brother called the home multiple times. When he did not get an answer, he and his wife went to the home about 10 pm. They found the couple's bodies in the master bedroom.



I cannot imagine being the brother or his wife. First to have had to go to the home and find the bodies. Then in the midst of their own shock, horror and grief to have to go home and tell their children. How do you tell them their parents are gone forever……and how do you answer their questions of how and why? The children are now reported to be staying with relatives. I am sure they do not think of themselves as lucky. But they were taken to their uncle's home first.

I did find an interesting article associated with how to tell children. It doesn't address how to children about their own parents, but it does discuss telling the other children. Because even though it wasn't their children, friends of the children may be traumatized also. :

Children's questions about violent acts should be answered with sensitivity 

One thing I noted that was a bit curious. The letter arrived last week. Yet the murder suicide did not occur till a week later. And Vincenza's father was staying with the family until the very day of the murder suicide. I am not sure how that relates, just find it curious.

When I hear of couple's divorcing, I always tell them to forget what they knew of their spouse. Because no matter what they think of their spouse, no matter how mild mannered or civilized…….when divorce becomes a reality, tensions escalate, stress mounts, decisions have to be made, and often there is some grief at the loss of the relationship, and people often do not behave as they do in normal times.


In front of witnesses

In June 2005, Siraquana Cotton, 25, told the court that she feared her boyfriend Charles Epperson would kill her. She was granted a protection order for one year. It was due to expire in a week.

The family says that there was domestic violence in the on again, off again relationship. And that they had warned her to stay away from him. But they say that she did not report the times that he violated that restraining order, and they say he did violate it.

On Thursday, it is reported that Cotton was at home with two of her children, and there were several children and other adults present in the home. Allegedly Epperson barged into the home, told her he was going to get her, he had a gun and he shot her. It is said that before she was shot Cotton pleaded for her life. Others who were in the house fled, and on Epperson's way out of the home, he shot her two year old daughter. Family says that the infant the couple shared was in the home, but was not harmed.

Cotton was pronounced dead at the scene, and 2 year old Marisa was transported to the hospital where she was later also pronounced dead.

After leaving the home, Epperson went to the river. One report states he was in the company of a woman there. Some reports say that he shot himself and fell into the river, some say that he jumped in. Police searched and were able to recover his body. Allegedly the woman with him called police and family to the scene.




Siraquana Cotton had three other children, who will be mourning the loss of their mother and sister. Her oldest son was living with his father, her oldest daughter was living with her paternal grandmother, and now her youngest who someday will learn how his father killed his mother. There are relatives and friends who will also be mourning their loss. Some of them will be reliving the events they saw happen that day, many times.

And Charles Epperson's family will also be mourning him. Just as great a loss to them, but one that will always be somewhat colored by the actions he took that day. I wonder if it ever occurred to him to wonder how his son would feel, when he grows old enough to learn how he lost his mother?

Again, a history of domestic violence, a protection order in place, a couple that never seemed to break off completely, and another death, or in this case deaths.

If you are at the point where you have to file for a restraining order, a temporary protection order, or you have filed charges- you need to develop a safety plan. Even if you are not to that point yet, it is a good idea to become familiar with it. Learn what is available in your area for domestic violence victims. And use them. A domestic violence support group can even be helpful if you haven't made the decision to leave yet. If you know someone who has domestic violence in a relationship, make them aware of the services available in the area, offer to assist them when they are ready, and encourage them to attend the support group for domestic violence victims.

For information about safety plans click here and here. Or enter the keywords domestic violence safety plan in any search engine.