Experts attribute Catalina murder-suicide to rise in domestic violence during holidays

Tangela Detiege, 33, was found dead in her home after a verbal altercation with her ex-boyfriend, according to authorities. Source: Facebook
Tangela Detiege, 33, was found dead in her home after a verbal altercation with her ex-boyfriend, according to authorities. Source: Facebook
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An argument between an estranged couple led to an apparent murder-suicide Saturday night on Catalina Ave. in Baton Rouge.

Unfortunately, experts say domestic violence cases tend to increase in the capital area each year around the holidays. Looking at the Park Forest East home, it's hard to imagine it was the site of unspeakable violence. Investigators with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office are still trying to determine exactly what happened around 7 p.m. Saturday, December 17 when 32-year-old Matthew Thornton allegedly shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, 33-year-old Tangela Detiege during an argument.

Neighbors told 9News the two had moved into a home on Catalina Ave. about two months ago and while they did not know much about the relationship, they say the pair had broken up and that Detiege did not want her ex back in her life. Thornton was found miles away on River Rd. at Ben Hur early Sunday morning. Police say he took his own life.

It's the latest case of domestic violence in the Baton Rouge area and Melanie Fields with the District Attorney's Office said it's a problem that often picks up around the holidays.

"Things like stresses of family, extended family, or money problems grow," Fields said. "The numbers increase during the holiday season 25 to 30 percent."

Twahna Harris, organizer of a domestic violence advocacy group called the Butterfly Society, said enough is enough. She was recently appointed to mayor-elect Sharon Weston-Broome's transition team and is tasked with tackling women's issues.

"It is on the rise and as a community we have to do something," Harris said. "You get tired of turning on the television and hearing that some woman has been murdered. It's frustrating, but I know we're out there making an impact."

Harris hosts a weekly radio show about the topic and she often tries to empower victims to walk away. She said perhaps the biggest factor is noticing the warning signs no matter how small. "Usually your perpetrator will isolate you from your support system, from your family, or from your friends," Harris said. "Some of the other signs could be there's such a thing as financial abuse, like monitoring your spending."

Harris, who is a domestic abuse survivor herself, said it is important for victims to get out of an abusive situation at the first sign of trouble. "But sometimes it doesn't always end well, like this situation," she added.

Anyone in an abusive relationship can contact the Iris Domestic Violence Center's 24-hour hotline at the following numbers:

  • Baton Rouge: 225-389-3001
  • Louisiana: 1-888-411-1333
  • National: 1-800-799-7233

If it is an emergency, victims are encouraged to call 911.

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