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Domestic violence advocates speak out about Deer Lodge homicide

By Donovan Hill, KTVM Reporter, dhill@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 12 2012 05:07:06 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 12 2012 05:31:15 PM MST
Victims Witness Advocate
DEER LODGE, Mont. -

A recent homicide in Deer Lodge is opening eyes across southwest Montana to a very serious problem affecting one in four woman.

Domestic violence is reportedly the reason behind the homicide that claimed the life of 67-year-old Tina Schowengerdt.

The tragedy has left a lot of people wondering what could have been done to save her.

As the victim's witness advocate for Powell County, Diana Solle knows the staggering abuse statistics all too well.

Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten. 4,000 woman a year die from domestic violence.

That means not one single place, not even a small Montana town is immune from domestic violence problems.

"I think it's just in our mindset that this isn't a normal thing, that it doesn't happen in little towns,” said Solle. 

“I get over 100 new clients a year, not all of them horribly beaten, not all of them have been sexually assaulted, but to some degree they have been abused," added Solle.

Solle admits she knew it had happened to Schowengerdt many times in the past.

"What I admired most about Tina is you could go into her store, you could see her downtown, you could see her at the fairgrounds, and she was always this little ray of sunshine and never ever would a stranger guess that she had an unhappy household," replied Solle.

Now Powell County deputies report Tina Schowengerdt's husband Dennis confessed to stabbing her.

Dennis Schowengerdt turned himself in the next morning after the murder happened. But not before he fed his livestock.

"I knew that there were problems at home and we talked about it.  We talked about leaving and she just said you know it's alright I can deal with it at home," said Solle.

Powell County has recently begun work on a shelter for abused women.

It'll be ready in February and from what sources told NBC Montana, the first family is already scheduled to move in.

"It's a place that they will be able to come and stay and live with their family.  They can stay there up to two years.  The average on these homes is about six months but it takes time for them to kind of get their act together," concluded Solle.

Diana knows it's tragically too late for Tina Schowengerdt. But she hopes she can at least make all the difference in another woman's life.