Kristin Mitchell Foundation warns of potential abuse

By Carol Dwyer
October 5, 2011

Students, faculty and staff attended domestic violence events and presentations.

“For a brief moment, I watched those sad people on the screen and I actually wondered, I remember this, what it would be like to be holding up a frame and be in a situation like that,” Bill Mitchell, founder of the Kristin Mitchell Foundation, said.  “And have someone you love so much taken away from you.”

Mitchell began telling his audience at Grace Hall about a personal story of domestic violence on Tuesday, Oct. 4.  Mitchell is the father of Kristin, for whom the Kristin Mitchell Foundation was founded in honor of.  Kristin lost her life to an abusive boyfriend in 2005.

However, it was about a year prior to when Mitchell’s family faced tragedy that he was asked to narrate for a domestic violence video.

“In the video, you watched different families and each family was holding up a photograph or a framed picture of a loved one who had been killed in a domestic violence situation,” Mitchell gestured as if holding up a photo as he stood before the audience.

Mitchell said that Kristin, 21, had just graduated from Saint Joseph’s University and already had specific plans to begin her career.  Conveying how the Mitchell’s tragic loss was a moment that stays with a family forever, Mitchell counted the time down to the hours since Kristin was killed.

The image of a bright future came to an end for her and her family when domestic violence took Kristin’s life.  Mitchell described getting what he felt was a bizarre call from a police detective, Lieutenant Vicki Shaffer of Howard County, Md.  The leuitenant told him she needed to tell him something in person and had gone to their house but no one was home, Mitchell said.

Mitchell also recalled having a camera on hand in case it was a hoax and maybe he could catch the person.  As the moments passed, Mitchell said that he thought the cops possibly wanted to ask if he saw any activity relating to something big that must have happened on their street.  Maybe he would have information to tell the cops to assist them, Mitchell said.

Kristin had a new apartment in Conshohocken, Pa. after graduation, according to Mitchell.  After Kristin’s murder, the Mitchell family began to find out more about her boyfriend.  Mitchell, in talking about the signs of domestic violence, said that one way was to isolate you from your family and friends.

“That’s what my daughter’s boyfriend was great at,” Mitchell said.  There was emphasis in Mitchell’s voice as he said the word ‘great.’

Mitchell went through a slide presentation as he continued  to talk about Kristin and the relationship she had with her boyfriend.  One text message Kristin sent to her boyfriend read, “You are being ridiculous why cant I do something with my friends,” a clear sign of trouble.  The domestic violence element of being controlled was evident in the tone of Kristin’s text message.

One slide toward the end of Mitchell’s presentation showed Kristin photographed by her mother; Kristin was holding a cellphone to her ear.  What’s more was the piece of information that Mitchell pointed out to the audience about the photo, taken shortly before his daughter’s death.  Kristin’s boyfriend was on the other end of the phone call, according to Mitchell.

“One murder can kill many people,” Mitchell said, reinforcing the idea that a victim’s family and friends are greatly affected by such a loss.

The audience wholeheartedly agreed that his daughter’s murderer received an all-too short sentencing in jail.  Mitchell said that the boyfriend could be released in 2020, cutting short a 30-year sentence.

Assistant District Attorney of Montgomery County, Wallis Brooks, spoke of the Mitchells in high regard.

“Facing the greatest tragedy a parent can imagine, they were dignified, respectful and dedicated to the memories of their daughter,”  Brooks said.  “It is not surprising to me that after the murder of their daughter, and the ensuing years, that the Mitchells embarked on a crusade to get the word out about the dangers of unhealthy dating relationships.  It is not surprising that the Mitchells formed the Kristin Mitchell Foundation to [pulpit] that effort.”

To learn more about the efforts of Kristin’s father and the Kristin Mitchell Foundation go to Kristin’s Krusade.  Sign up for the organization’s e-news and keep current on activities being held to end domestic violence.


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Carol Dwyer

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