There was a court order protecting Ms. Haughton from her husband, Radcliffe. That order that was also supposed to stop him from possessing a gun.
"It's very clear out there that when an abuser makes threats in terms of killing someone and says they're going to kill somebody, research shows that those are the most predictable murders that there are out there," said Kathy Doherty, Illinois Coalition VS Domestic Violence.
More than 1.2 million women are granted protection orders each year. Nevertheless, hundreds of them end up murdered by current or former partners. Some, including Radcliffe Haughton, simply ignore the honor system requiring them to surrender their guns; others kill before the protection order can be served.
"So that gap in time between the order being granted and the individual being served and accountable for violations can pose a really dangerous time," said Megan Rose, Between Friends.
In Illinois, court orders are entered into statewide police computers and should automatically cancel a domestic abuser's firearm owner identification card that allow purchase of a gun. Further, in Cook County, the sheriff's department tries to serve abusers with protective orders within 12 hours.
"We have teams that come, anywhere from six to eight officers along with a canine officer. We go up to the door and we force entry. If there is an individual there to serve, great, we'll serve them an order of protection but at that point the main purpose is to recover any and all firearms at that address," said Carmen Gercone, assistant chief in the civil division, Cook County Sheriff's Department.
Even though Illinois is considered far more aggressive than Wisconsin in enforcing domestic abuser protection orders, there is a loophole here similar to the one that allowed Sunday's deadly spa attack. Even in Cook County, when domestic abusers are in court and served a protection order by a judge, surrendering any guns they own, is on the honor system.
Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Between Friends-victims of domestic violence advocacy agency
Cook County Sheriff's Dept.