Debra Boggs found her daughter’s body on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s house.
The woman had spent the night of March 26, 2013, with her grandchildren, 6-year-old Noah and 2-year-old Maggie, while their parents went out.
Natalie and Thomas argued when they returned home. Their children stayed in the house, helpless, while their father chased their mother out the door.
Boggs heard what she thought were fireworks being set off, until Thomas returned inside.
“You’re next,” he said.
Natalie Miller is one of three women being inducted into the Silent Witnesses exhibit in Laramie this year. The exhibit recognizes men and women killed by domestic violence in Wyoming.
The national rate of domestic violence has declined by 64 percent since 1994, according to the United States Department of Justice. The reduction can be attributed to the passing of the Violence Against Women Act that year.
Among other initiatives, the legislation created grants to encourage communities to coordinate multidisciplinary responses to domestic violence. The grant money is awarded to states to strengthen law enforcement and prosecution strategies, as well as victim services, to combat violent crimes against women.
Jennifer Zenor, executive director of the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said declining rates of domestic violence in Wyoming are a result of coordinated community responses.
“When a community responds to support a person through that process and has programs and resources available, murder becomes less of an option,” Zenor said.
Multidisciplinary responses involve police departments, county deputies, district attorney’s offices, hospitals and emergency shelters. The agencies are cross-trained, so they’re on the same page about what victims of domestic violence need -- a place to sleep, medical assistance or legal help, such as a protective order.
Wyoming ranked third in the nation in 2007 for the number of women murdered by men, according to the Violence Policy Center. The death toll was six that year, a startlingly high number for the state’s small population.
Five years later, that number was cut in half. Wyoming ranked 31st in the nation in domestic homicides in 2012.
While multidisciplinary responses have already helped decrease domestic violence in communities, Zenor said primary prevention, which aims to end violence before it happens, may show improvements later on.
The Mentors in Violence Prevention program at Northwest College in Powell breaks down gender stereotypes that traditionally go along with sports.
“They look at healthy sexuality and gender norming and look at why there are labels and expectations put on females and on males,” Zenor said.
Primary prevention programs strive to relieve the pressure that men and women feel to act in gender-specific ways. When men face less pressure to always have power and control, they are less likely to act violently toward their partners.
But, Zenor said, these programs will take time to show results.
“Changing social norms is a tremendous undertaking,” she said.
Crystal Town and Anna Davis will also join the 40 people who compose the Silent Witnesses exhibit. The domestic violence victims, represented by life-sized red wooden silhouettes, will be on display during a procession through Laramie on Oct. 4.
Town had filed for divorce two months before she was shot and killed by her husband, Christopher, on Oct. 2, 2013. The 29-year-old went to Christopher’s home in Cheyenne to pick up their 10-year-old daughter. Town was killed in front of her daughter.
Davis, who was 21, was killed on June 27, two months after she moved to Casper from Georgia with her boyfriend, Nick Morgan. Morgan shot Davis and then himself.