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Civil Rights

A vigil for Lauren Ise



“I just feel that he had more rights than her. He came to her apartment at 3am Monday evening, telling, her, screaming, that he was going to murder her,” said Cheryl Palazzo, mother of Lauren Ise, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend last Wednesday. “She called the police the morning after. They came, they walked around 5-10 minutes, said, ‘Sorry, Lauren, There’s no evidence. There’s nothing we can do.'”

Palazzo was speaking to a crowd of nearly 100 people and a phalanx of reporters at a vigil for her daughter. She was in tears. It was a profoundly sad event.

“He was allowed to walk the streets, come knock on this girl’s window one night, threaten to murder her, and the next night come back in and murder her,” said Palazzo’s partner, Paul Ruo. “Something went wrong. Something fell apart.”

Lauren Ise had broken up with her boyfriend, Michael Marrapese, just days before. In a statement, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICAGV) noted that this is the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence.

“Lauren’s death reminds us of the risks victims face when escaping an abusive relationship. Leaving an abusive relationship is a high lethality risk factor for victims as abusers are more likely to increase their violent behavior during this time. In the wake of her death, it is imperative that our communities, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system continue to be aware of the barriers and risk victims face when escaping abuse.

Domestic violence homicide is never an isolated event or a momentary loss of temper. It is a pattern of controlling and escalating violent behaviors, with murder being the ultimate act of violence by an abuser. Studies have shown that several risk factors lead to a domestic violence homicide, some of which are the presence of firearms, threats of homicide, previous physical assaults, and when a victim tries to leave the relationship. Law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and domestic violence agencies must continue to work together towards reducing risks of domestic violence homicide in our state.

Cheryl Palazzo and Paul Ruo

“She tried to get a restraining order, ah, but he was street smart,” said Cheryl Palazzo to the crowd. “He got one first, so therefore she could not get one. She couldn’t get one because he got one, and she also couldn’t get one because you have to have an address and he told her he was homeless.

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“Two weeks prior his brother had a knife to her throat. Why was he let out? Is that not attempted murder? I’m asking questions, I don’t have answers.

“Somebody dropped the ball. Neither one of them should have been out because if they weren’t, she’d be here.”

Tonya Harris, executive director of the RICADV spoke briefly at the event, as did many of Lauren’s friends and family.

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Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.