Norfolk woman desperate for help after fires, harassment and multiple protective order violations

Norfolk woman desperate for help after fires, harassment and multiple protective order violations

NORFOLK, Va. — A Norfolk woman says she’s desperate for help after she said her house, car and shed were set on fire over the course of several weeks.

She says she was stalked and harassed by her ex-boyfriend.

She also went to law enforcement repeatedly after her protective order was violated a number of times.

She told News 3 she couldn’t understand why he was let out on bond twice. News 3 got involved and started asking questions to authorities.

“I’m fearful that he’s going to find me and kill me and my daughter,” said the woman.

News 3 started to investigate the situation several weeks ago prior to him finally being held without bond.

We are not identifying this woman due to safety concerns.

She said, “My car got keyed, my next-door neighbor’s car got keyed with a heart on the hood, and on the side it said, ‘keep her.’”

Then a few days later in April, she said her shed and car were set on fire.

A month later, she said she woke up to firefighters in her bedroom after the house was on fire.

She said, “It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

Her ex-boyfriend was arrested nearby for violating a protective order. She said then, the condemned home was burglarized a few days later.

“Things my mother left me before she died, like keepsakes and mementos that are irreplaceable [were taken],” she said. “There were things that were taken that only he would have taken, like for instance, a bathrobe with his name stitched into it that was taken. But my TV was still sitting there.”

Investigators labeled the fires as suspicious, but they said no one has been arrested for the car, shed or house fires. However, they told News 3 reporter Margaret Kavanagh that they do have a person of interest.

Court records show that the woman’s ex-boyfriend was accused of assaulting her in October. He was let out on bond.

He was arrested again for violating a protective order, and again, let out on bond.

He was also accused of making threats that date back to March, stalking her in April, and facing multiple protective order violations, according to court records.

He was arrested again in late May.

A judge finally held him without bond in June.

Neisha Himes is the founder of the G.R.O.W. Foundation, a nonprofit that helps domestic violence victims. She is not connected to this case but has experience working in the courts.

“I’ve seen [cases] where people have violated protective orders five, 10 plus times, and still are able to get out on bond or their own personal recognizance,” said Himes.

She said many victims feel helpless and don’t know where to turn.

“What has got to happen? Do I have to turn up dead for anybody to do anything? And that’s the reality for a lot of people,” said Himes.

Himes said different courts make different decisions in the various jurisdictions, which can make it extremely confusing and challenging.

“You might you go to three different magistrates or judges, and you might get three different answers,” said Himes.

This is something that the victim in the recent case says she’s experienced repeatedly.

“I honestly didn’t know what to do. I just want to cry or scream, or I don’t know. I just have no words for it. It’s just ridiculous,” said the victim.

Experts say protective orders are a great tool and an important piece of paper, but there are obstacles.

News 3 sat down with the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi to talk about this. He said serving protective orders can sometimes present challenges.

“It’s just like serving a subpoena, an arrest warrant, serving any other kind of legal paper, like divorce papers. It takes time and effort to try to serve those papers,” said Fatehi.

He said sometimes people don’t want to be found and protective orders are only good if people follow them.

“It’s not a shield. It doesn’t provide 24-hour protection and that’s why the violation statute exists and that’s why victims have to take advantage of resources that are there to help keep them safe,” said Fatehi.

Fatehi and others, including Himes, encourage victims to report violations.

“If you are a victim of a crime, if you feel like your safety is in danger, you should do everything you can to advocate for yourself,” said Himes.

She advises victims to keep good records of anything related to their case and to write down the names and dates of people they spoke to.

Fatehi said he would like to see more state funding for victims and encourages people to protect themselves by doing things like having good lighting around their homes, getting up cameras and even having a dog.

The victim we spoke to said staying safe has been a challenge. She believes that News 3 asking questions put a spotlight on the problems she was facing.

She is continuing her court battle in an effort to protect herself and her daughter.

No one has been arrested for the car, shed, house fire or burglary.

For information about protective orders from the Department of Criminal Justice, click .

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