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'If she knew the signs, she may still be alive'

Hollywood, MD - When Bill Mitchell last saw his daughter Kristin Mitchell alive, it was on the day of her graduation from college. She was just getting ready to start a new job with General Mills and she had just moved into a condominium that was closer to her new job. 

Three weeks after her graduation, on June 3, 2005, Bill Mitchell and his wife got the visit every parent dreads---their daughter had been murdered in her condo. The suspect was her boyfriend, Brian David Landau. He had allegedly stabbed Kristin 55 times, with 11 of those being in her back as she tried to escape.

Bill Mitchell recently visited St. Mary's County Public Schools to talk to teens about dating violence, as Great Mills High School saw on that fateful March 20th day, when a 17-year old boy took his ex-girlfriend's life in the hallways. The day the shooting took place, Mitchell was actually on his way to St. Mary's County from Baltimore, to deliver this exact speech to all three county high schools. Mitchell wanted all to learn what the signs are of dating violence, and to know that it does not have to be physical violence to be abuse.

Mitchell talked about how his daughter, the night before she was murdered, sent an e-mail to him about how controlling her boyfriend had become, and how he didn't want her hanging out with her friends. He e-mailed her back in the morning of June 3, but unfortunately Kristen never saw his e-mail, because she had already been killed.  He also talked about how a few days after her graduation, Kristen and her mother went to Ocean City, MD and her boyfriend would call and text constantly wanting to know where she was and what she was doing. 

Mitchell brought up stats of dating violence. At some point in their lives, one in every three women and one in every four men will be in some sort of abusive relationship. Mitchell believes that if his daughter had been more aware of the signs, she might be alive today. Signs of abuse include, but are not limited to, controlling what one does, belittling or putting down, the abuser making excuses for his or her behavior, actual physical force or threats of physical force and sexual abuse. 

After what happened at Great Mills High School, it is important for teens to be aware of the signs of an abusive relationship, but also for parents. At 6:30 pm on June 6, Mitchell made his presentation for the community at Leonardtown High School. There were resources from Moms Demand Action, Pathways, MedStar St. Mary's Hospital, St. Mary's County Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the St. Mary's County Commission for Women. 

Anyone who is in a relationship that might be abusive should first seek help. If you cannot tell your family or friends, call 1-800-799-SAFE. For additional information or tips on how to handle a loved one who may be abusing or may be being abused, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline web site, which can be found here. You can also visit Kristins Krusades, which is a not for profit organization to honor Kristin Mitchell, and to bring awareness to domestic violence. You may visit that web site here.

Contact Suzanne Copeland at S.copeland@thebaynet.com

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