Just outside the middle of nowhere there has been domestic violence in Bell, Florida. Few even know Bell, Florida exists. The total population is 350, about as many who would be in an average-sized church sanctuary this Sunday. Now the entire nation is aware of a tiny town in Florida called Bell. You expect to hear of pumpkin tossing, horseback riding, stick ball, but domestic violence in Bell, Florida? And to such an abhorrent degree? You just don’t see something like that coming.
Eight members of one family are dead. Seven were murdered, and one died of self-inflicted wounds. Don Spirit, age 51, murdered his daughter and her six children, one an infant. After calling 911 he took his own life. In 2001 Don Spirit was convicted of carrying a weapon by a convicted criminal when he purportedly shot and killed his 10-year-old son accidentally. Spirit had prior records and served time in prison. He was known for causing trouble. But why? Will we ever find out why a man would kill his own six grandchildren and his daughter? Has our country gone completely mad? Such news reports, maybe not to this extent, are heard on a regular basis in cities such as Detroit, Chicago or Miami. But, who expects to hear of such domestic violence in Bell, Florida? The children in the local school have been traumatized beyond measure. The faculty, as well.
Florida’s governor will be traveling to this rural location. I’m curious what questions he will ask about the domestic violence in Bell, Florida. What caused it? Law enforcement had been called out to the home on numerous occasions. At what point in time do we say, “Enough is enough. One of you is leaving”? So many victims of domestic violence apply for a restraining order and then fail to appear for the hearing, letting everything drop. The Court’s hands are then tied to help. Even more refuse to seek a restraining order because they know it will put them in a position of greater danger. Could we allow our State Attorney offices to petition the Court for a restraining order whether or not the victim desires to seek one? And, if that were to happen, what level of danger would the victim find himself/herself in with the abuser? Perhaps if it were not so easy for batterers/criminals to be released from jail or prison over and over again, there would not have been domestic violence in Bell, Florida. Perhaps it would be curtailed around our nation. It is frustrating to have so many questions and so few answers.
I can’t wrap my head around the idea of a father killing not one but both of his children, then murdering his six grandchildren. And in regular fashion, Don Spirit then took his own life. We’re seeing too any murder/suicides when it comes to domestic violence. But this mass murder? The picture has been painted in the woods and pastures of innocence and simple life. We now have a vision of the epitome of domestic violence in Bell, Florida. Pray for the community, the father of the children, and especially for the children of Bell, Florida who will surely be scarred emotionally from this horrendous crime, and especially the loss of their friends.