Court order not always enough to protect against domestic violence

(CBS News) Police say the man behind a deadly shooting at a spa in Brookfield, Wisc. was a jealous husband who bought his weapon two days after a court ordered him to turn in all firearms.

Radcliffe Haughton shot and killed three women and wounded four others on Sunday before taking his own life. Among the dead was his estranged wife, Zina Haughton.

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A Milwaukee judge granted Zina's request for the restraining order against her husband Radcliffe on Thursday. In a handwritten plea, she wrote that he vowed to burn her with gas and kill her if she called police.

"His threats terrorize my every waking moment," Zina wrote.

On the day Radcliffe was granted the order, a Florida man shot his estranged girlfriend at an Orlando-area hair salon in a separate case. The attack came just before he was to appear before a judge considering her request for protection. He shot four women before killing himself.

Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wis.
Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, of Brown Deer, Wis.
AP Photo/Brookfield Police Dept

"A restraining order just a piece of paper. It is not a body of armor," Elaine Myerson, who runs a shelter for abused women in New Jersey called Shelter Our Sisters, says.

These women have the court, law enforcement and a piece of paper on their side, but Myerson believes that isn't always enough.

"There are some people who cannot be stopped, but we wouldn't want that to stop women from finding safety," she says.

More than 1.2 million women are granted protection orders every year. In 2010, 1,800 women were murdered by current or former partners.

"Leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence," Rene Renick, who works with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, says.

Renick says restraining orders can incite some abusive men, because they feel like they're losing control.

"Of women who have been killed by their intimate partners, only 4 percent ever had contact with a domestic violence program," she says.

Women who fear for their safety must have a complete escape plan that does not necsesarily rely on the courts. They should connect with an advocate, tell a friend and find a secure place to stay.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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