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DA: Domestic violence at root of homicides

June 4, 2012

Indiana County District Attorney Pat Dougherty said this past weekend's four homicides were tragic consequences of domestic violence, and that there are avenues for those who need help. (Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

INDIANA — The Indiana County district attorney said two separate incidents in which four people lost their lives over the weekend can be attributed to domestic violence.

"Indiana County was rocked this weekend by domestic violence deaths," Indiana County District Attorney Pat Dougherty said during a news conference Monday at the PSP-Indiana barracks.

"Too often, we treat things like this as something that
just happens," he said. "We see now, it's not just something that happens."

Dougherty's remarks came after a tragic two days in the northern part of the county, in which four people were brutally murdered.

Friday night, police said Lewis Beatty, 40, South Mahoning Township, killed both of his daughters at the house before killing his estranged wife at a residence 10 miles away.

He set fire to his wife's home along Pfeiffer Road, East Mahoning Township, and then returned and set fire to his own home — with the bodies of his daughters inside — along Morrow Road, police said.

And in a separate incident early Sunday morning, police said Shaun Fairman, 32, Smicksburg, shot and killed his father-in-law upon arriving at the Route 210 residence in search of his wife, who had filed a protection from abuse (PFA) order against him only weeks before.

Police said Beatty and his wife, Christine, 33, had a verbal agreement on custody of their children, while Fairman had received notice of divorce papers earlier in the day Saturday.

Dougherty said the PFA against Fairman went into effect May 22.

"We know that we have PFAs and things in place to protect people," he said. "Unfortunately, this weekend, the system just did not work."

Dougherty confirmed that when one has a PFA filed against him or her, he or she is prohibited from owning, possessing or purchasing firearms.

When asked if he had any advice for those who believe they might be a victim of domestic violence, Dougherty said, "Get help," and that in Indiana County, the Alice Paul House has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 724-349-4444.

In Jefferson County, Crossroads offers a 24-hour hotline at 1-800-598-3998.

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