Slain Woman Had Begged Apartment Complex to Change Locks, Lawsuit Claims

Fearful that her husband would come into their residence and damage their kids, Ruth Esther Reyes de Severino “begged” the managers of Penns Grove Gardens in Salem County, N.J., to change the door locks after she was granted a short lived restraining order in opposition to him in January 2020, in accordance to a lawsuit filed by her household.

She requested not less than 5 instances within the following weeks, her household’s lawyer stated, however nothing occurred.

On Feb. 5, 2020, Ms. Reyes de Severino’s estranged husband, Eugenio Severino, 54, unlocked the door to Unit 47 with a key, walked in with a knife and fatally stabbed her and their two kids, in accordance to the authorities. Then he hanged himself in a close-by park.

Ms. Reyes de Severino’s household contends of their lawsuit, which was filed final month in Salem County Superior Court, that the residence operators ought to have accomplished extra to stop the deaths of Ms. Reyes de Severino, 30, and her kids, Eurianny, 5, and Eury, 2.

The lawsuit claims negligence, wrongful demise, breach of contract and negligent hiring and supervision. The household is in search of compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to the $1,207 safety deposit that was paid for the unit.

The defendants within the lawsuit — Penns Grove Apartments; Penns Grove Gardens; the Massachusetts-based Housing Management Resources; and Roger J. Gendron — didn’t instantly reply to requests in search of touch upon Wednesday.

Samuel D. Jackson, a lawyer for Ms. Reyes de Severino’s household, stated in an interview on Wednesday that “domestic violence is a horrible problem that deserves all of our attention, but this case is about the negligence of the landlord in the apartment complex.”

News of the household’s demise underscored the constraints of restraining orders, which specialists stated may be efficient however don’t utterly stop cases of home violence.

“This case is horrific,” Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor of nursing at Johns Hopkins University whose analysis focuses on home violence, stated in an interview on Wednesday.

She added that the case was “particularly tragic” as a result of New Jersey had applied a number of services and programs to assist curb home violence, which some analysis exhibits has increased worldwide during the pandemic.

The marriage of Ms. Reyes de Severino and Mr. Severino “began to sour” in January 2020 “for reason unclear,” in accordance to her household’s lawsuit. Around that point, Mr. Severino “threatened to kill” his spouse on “numerous occasions,” it states.

She threw him out of the residence, the place their kids additionally lived. According to the swimsuit, Mr. Severino was not listed as a tenant — solely Ms. Reyes de Severino’s signature is on the lease.

“I don’t know if he was named on a lease previously,” Mr. Jackson stated. “But the lease that was in effect at the time that she requested the lock change, and that was in effect at the time of the tragic murders, did not include the husband’s name.”

The lawsuit additionally claims that the residence operators had failed to abide by a Salem County ordinance that was handed in 2019 requiring all residence complexes to have safety cameras and ample lighting all through the property.

Mr. Jackson stated the complicated didn’t observe that ordinance, however he declined to specify how.

The ordinance was handed following the demise of a person who was shot and killed at Penns Grove Gardens as he tried to intervene in a dispute between two males, in accordance to NJ.com.

Alexis Piquero, a criminologist on the University of Miami, stated in an interview on Wednesday that the killings confirmed how “if someone is hellbent on hurting someone, there’s no restraining order that’s going to be able to prevent that.”

“You’re really relying on the deterrent threat of that order to prevent an individual from exercising harm,” Dr. Piquero stated.

A multifaceted strategy, using tools that assist judges assess the hazard a home abuser poses and ensuring the violent social gathering is avoided the sufferer and brought care of, can even assist stop home violence, stated Toni Troop, the director of communications and growth for Jane Doe Inc, a coalition in opposition to sexual assault.

“Cases like this shouldn’t have to happen,” she stated.

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