Last three Troy murders all domestic

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 12, 2013

Troy has only had two murders this year with a total of three in the last nine months. But they weren’t random acts. All three events had something in common – they were domestic.

“When we see crimes like this [murder], the people involved usually know each other,” said Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ennis.

On October 27, 2012, Troy Police found Melissa Shipman, 29, shot dead in her apartment at Troy Villas on Gibbs Street. Suroy Wheeler, 33, was arrested and charged with her murder. The two had been in a relationship.

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On April 26, Russell Senn was arrested and charged with murder after he allegedly shot his sister, Sharron Schwening, in the yard of a home on Trojan Way.

And on Monday, July 8, Tiffany Upshaw, 24, was arrested and charged with murder after fatally shooting her child’s father, Melvin Kenyetta Scott, 29.

While arguments might be more common that expected, Troy Police say that reporting incidents of domestic disturbances is one way to curb the excessive violence that happened in Troy’s last three murder cases

“Most of the domestic violence cases we have here, there is a history there in probably 70 percent of them,” said Troy Police Lt. Bryan Weed. “Sometimes it is a constant bickering. A lot of times, people will use calling the police as a threat but then they won’t follow through. Or, we’ll take a report, but they won’t sign for a warrant.”

Many times, Weed said, a victim is addicted to an abuser and can’t see another lifestyle working out.

“I am sure there are a lot of victims out there who don’t know where or who they would turn to,” Ennis, added.

One resource TPD uses is the House of Ruth in Dothan. The house is in a secret location and provides an immediate safe haven for female victims of violence.

But that’s not always the end of the violent situation.

“The male is not always the aggressor, though,” Ennis said.

Whether a man or woman, it’s important for victims to remember to remain strong when they make a break from an aggressor.

“Sometimes, the anger melts away and victims begin thinking about that person and they call them,” Weed said. “If people have made the break and have had enough, they should reach out to a family member or someone they trust to fill that void they may be feeling was left by the abuser.”

Ennis stressed that seeking someone to lean on, whether a person or an organization such as the House of Ruth, is important.

“There is nothing wrong with asking for help,” Ennis said. “Sometimes actually asking for help can be one of the strongest things you can do.”

The first step in ending a violent situation though, Ennis said, is to call the police.

“We urge everyone to call us and let us come out and see if we can calm the situation,” Ennis said. “There is a neutralizing factor we can provide. We encourage anyone in an abusive relationship to seek help, no matter how severe you think it might be.”

To reach the Troy Police Department, call 566-0500, or the Secret Witness line at 566-5555.