Murder Top Killer of Pregnant Women

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Homicide is one of the top killers of pregnant women, according to Executive Director of the Fort Smith Women's Crisis Intervention Center Nicki Babb.

In the past month, two local expecting mothers have been murdered in the River Valley.

A pregnant mother was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband Tuesday afternoon in Fort Smith. Just last month, a 20-year-old carrying her first child was found shot to death in her car on a Spiro road.

Both are reminders pregnant women could often be a target for murder.

"Homicides are the second leading cause of death for pregnant women," said Babb.

According to Babb, half of murdered pregnant woman are killed at the hands of their intimate partner.

“They're less likely to leave and that's because they don't want to disrupt the relationship during pregnancy," said Babb.

Police say James Herring told detectives he was not happy with his week-old marriage to Celestia Duffin, who was six months pregnant. The baby died shortly after being delivered at a local hospital.

Babb says women may think an unexpected baby could help the relationship.

Coordinators at the crisis center say one out of every four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The center has helped 1,000 in the past year. Lona, who didn't want her face or full name revealed, is one of them.

"I still have my children,” said Lona. “I still have my family. I still have the breath in my life, and so many don't."

Lona says she finally found the courage to get out of her abusive marriage, and hopes others take those first steps to a new life too.

"There is help and there is hope and you don't have to go through this alone," said outreach coordinator June LaMia.

LaMia and Babb recommend anyone in an abusive relationship to seek help. To learn more about the Crisis Intervention Center, click HERE, or call the hotline at 1-800-359-0056