Police say a murder suicide happened in Madison over the weekend, after a couple was found shot dead in their home.
Police say they suspect James Tony Sykes shot his girlfriend Sherry Sheree Waller before turning the gun on himself.
Shannon Barry says this apparent domestic violence related homicide highlights the need for services for those dealing with abuse. She’s the executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, or DAIS, which offers counselors and shelter. “This weekend’s tragedy once again reminds us how critical it is that we continue come together collectively to raise awareness of the plague that is domestic violence in our communities and to share information about resources available to victims and their children.”
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says Sykes had a history of domestic violence charges against other women. He says police believe Waller and Sykes had been together since last Christmas. Court records show that Sykes had been previously convicted of domestic abuse with charges dating back to 2009.
Koval says, “I would venture a guess that at least 25 percent if not more every year’s annual carnage of reporting homicides they’re going to find at their root at their origination point some connecting crossroads to domestic violence.”
Waller leaves behind five children spanning ages 3 to fourteen.
Waller had never come to the police about domestic violence in her relationship with Sykes, but Berry says that’s common. She says less than a quarter of domestic violence cases are ever reported to law enforcement.“Though we’ve made tremendous progress… we clearly have a lot of work left to do. There are a lot of victims who continue to live in the shadow of fear and who are not reaching out for services.”
The DAIS 24 hour helpline is 608-251-4445. Berry says that helpline is the gateway to all of DAIS’s services, which include face-to-face meeting with advocates who can help with safety planning along with children’s shelters and lawyers to help with restraining orders and other legal issues.