It turns out that handing out domestic violence restraining orders like candy, with no evidence of abuse, can have consequences – tragic consequences.
Last week, Lisa Cochran, of Jefferson County, Missouri, sent her former boyfriend an email saying she “couldn’t take it anymore” ending the message with the word “goodbye.” She piled her three young daughters in her car, drove to his house and parked in front. She then took out a shotgun and murdered Alyssa Cochran, 11, Autumn Cochran, 10 and Faith Ehlen, 22 months. She then sat on the front steps of the house and killed herself with the same gun.
Lisa Cochran was a deeply disturbed young woman. Her former boyfriend, Christopher Ehlen, father of Faith, as well as her ex-husband, Vincent Cochran, both say that mental health issues had long plagued her. She had recently talked of suicide.
But what she had also recently done was go to court to get a protection order preventing Ehlen from coming near her or the girls. According to Ehlen’s family, the order was issued with no evidence to support it. Because it was, Ehlen could do nothing to intervene to save the children he loved so much. Indeed, when he arrived at his house that day and saw her car in his driveway, he didn’t go near it because of the no-contact order, and called the police instead.
Here is the public statement issued by Ehlen’s family:
“The Ehlen family thanks the community for their outpouring of support in this time of overwhelming grief. Chris Ehlen loved and cared for each of these wonderful girls — Faith, his daughter, and Alyssa and Autumn, girls from Lisa’s previous marriage. These girls were his delight. His love for these girls was visible for those who saw the tenderness, time and financial support he poured into these innocent, beautiful girls.Apparently, Cochran is the third mother in the past six months in the St. Louis area to murder her children and then commit suicide.
“By following the decision of the court, with no evidence of wrongdoing other than hearsay from a woman not emotionally stable, he was not allowed to further protect Faith, Autumn, and Alyssa. Instead, he was alleged to be a potential threat to the children rather than the truth of the matter, which was that he was trying to prevent emotional and physical harm.
“Words cannot describe the tremendous hole left in the lives of the Ehlen family and friends with the loss of these wonderful girls who were taken too soon. Our prayers are with the other St. Louis familes who have suffered similar losses.”
The countless problems with issuing protective orders with little or no supporting evidence have been well documented. They separate fathers from children, they turn men out of their homes, they violate fundamental due process rights, etc. Now it seems they have the ability to do the exact opposite of what they’re intended to. When used to allow a dangerous and mentally unstable mother to keep a fit, loving father from protecting his children, a TRO can assist that mother in destroying three beautiful lives.
Will anyone notice? If the welfare of men and fathers doesn’t move judges or legislators to rational action, maybe this will. Maybe.
Here’s the article (St.Louis Post -Dispatch, 9/10/12).
Thanks to Kevin for the heads-up.