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Bethany murder-suicide victim’s past calls to police reveals pattern of abuse

BETHANY, Okla. - A history of violence is beginning to surface after a couple in their late 50s were found dead inside a Bethany home following what police called a murder suicide.

Police said that on Sunday, Bobby Wayne Craig shot Lela Ellison before turning the gun on himself. They were found in their home by a concerned neighbor the next day.

But in March 2018, Ellison had called police to the home reporting Craig beat her and threatened her.

"He has guns," she told the 911 dispatcher that day. "He said he's going to shoot me, and kill me, and kill himself."

After talking to police, they said neither person wanted to press charges. Bethany police still turned their findings over to the district attorney, who also did not file charges.

"The victim and the suspect were both uncooperative," explained Bethany Police Lt. Angelo Orefice.

Whether charges would have changed the tragic outcome, Lt. Orefice couldn't say.

"Just because charges are filed doesn't mean that that's going to be the ultimate savior for these people, that it`s going to help them," he said. The detective said on a slow day, Bethany officers respond to three or four domestic assault calls everyday. Typically, he said victims of abuse won't leave their abuser until they've been attacked seven or eight times.

But Angela Beatty, senior director of domestic violence victims' services at the YWCA, said no victim should wait that long.

"Abusers give Oscar-worthy performances, saying that they're sorry and they'll never do it again," Beatty said, "but the bottom line is the research shows that without intervention, it won't get better."

Whether victims stay with their abuser out of fear, financial dependency, love, or any other reason, advocates at centers like the YWCA can help them navigate the situation safely to prevent deadly outcomes like Sunday's. There are numerous resources for victims and for victims with children. Advoctes also said if a victim doesn't want to include law enforcement for whatever reason, they don't have to.

No matter what the concern, they encourage anyone in a bad situation to call.

"We are not here to tell people what to do," Beatty said. "An advocate is here to help provide options and resources to help you think through the different possibilities of what may happen."

The YWCA is located at 2460 NW 39th St, Oklahoma City, OK, and resources can be reached at (405) 948-1770. The 24-hour domestic violence hotline is (405) 917-9922, and the 24-hour sexual assault hotline is (405) 943-7273.

Victims can also call the Oklahoma Safeline toll-free at 1-800-522-SAFE (7233), a hotline for seeking help or information about domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

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