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Press Release

Contra Costa Domestic Violence Death Team Issues New Report

For release November 10, 2005

Fatal victims of domestic abuse situations in Contra Costa County are sometimes children, but most often are either female homicide victims or male suicides, according to a report being presented November 15 to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors by the Contra Costa County Domestic Violence Death Review Team.

The Team issued the third report of its seven-year history this week, detailing 58 deaths possibly related to domestic violence in Contra Costa between 1997 and 2000. The Team does not review cases until they reach conclusion in the criminal justice system because of the legal sensitivity of open cases, said team member Dawn Marie Wadle, MD.

"Without attaching blame, the Team seeks to identify potential gaps in services to households with domestic violence. We believe this helps prevent domestic violence deaths," said Wadle, a family physician at Contra Costa Health Services' Richmond Health Center. She co-chairs the Team with Deborah Knodell of the County Sheriff's Office.

"One finding of our 2005 report reinforces what national data has shown: The most dangerous time of a relationship is during the time of separation," said Wadle, noting that 22 of the 31 domestic violence deaths occurred during times of separation. "We recommend that everyone who knows someone involved in a violent relationship help them develop a safety plan. That includes such things as alternative housing or shelter, emergency protective and restraining orders, and help for all the family members."

The 58 deaths studied are divided into five categories depending on how directly the violence caused the death. Of the 58 cases, 17 were found not to be domestic violence, and 10 were not proven domestic violence. The report is downloadable at

The other 31 deaths involved 26 domestic violence events, with 17 male victims and 14 female. Seventeen deaths were homicides and 12 were suicides, the latter including 11 men and one woman. There was also one accidental death of a domestic violence suspect fleeing police, and one man who died of natural causes years after being paralyzed by a domestic gunshot.

Three children were killed, all females including one teen killed by her boyfriend. Fatal domestic violence incidents occurred in ten different cities located throughout the county.

Organizations represented on the 12-agency Team include the county offices of the Coroner, District Attorney, Employment and Human Services, Health Services, Probation and Superior Court. The Contra Costa Crisis Center, Concord Police Department, Kaiser Richmond, STAND! Against Domestic Violence and a community member-at-large also participate.

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Press Contact
  • Dr. Dawn Marie Wadle
  • 510-231-1337
  • 925-603-4080