Oakley couple killed in murder-suicide had no history of domestic violence
OAKLEY, Summit County — Toni Lyn Cavagnaro, 40, and Sean Thomas Kenealey, 45, were a couple for about 10 years.
During that time, police say they never received any indication, or saw any red flags, that there were problems with domestic violence in their relationship.
"Nothing led us to believe they were violent with each other," said Summit County Sheriff's Capt. Justin Martinez. "There's just been no history associated with these two."
But on Friday night, as Cavagnaro was in the process of packing her belongings into her car, investigators believe Kenealey shot and killed her in the garage before taking his own life.
"It appears that she was getting ready to move out, they were going through a separation. Our investigation shows it looks like she was gathering her belongings to move out," Martinez said.
"It is kind of shocking in respect there is no history associated with this couple. However, we never knew what they were going through and what prompted this to happen, whether he just snapped or what really happened that night, we're not entirely sure."
Anti-domestic violence advocates say it's not uncommon for details of a volatile relationship to be revealed after such a tragic event.
"People don't come out and talk about abuse. There's a real culture of secrecy around domestic violence," said Asha Parekh, director of Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center at the YWCA.
Parekh has no knowledge of what was happening in the relationship with Kenealey and Cavagnaro. But generally, victims of domestic violence don't advertise that they're being abused.
"Often, many victims do not report abuse. There is such a huge amount of shame and guilt associated with being a victim of domestic violence that people are afraid to seek help. A lot of times, victims are very isolated as a result of abuse and control," she said.
"That's the unfortunate part about domestic violence, that there's not always signs," added Martinez. "And if there are signs, they're hidden by either the victim and or the perpetrator. They don't want that information out there."
Parekh said "there is so much help available for victims to get the kind of support they need."
Victims of domestice violence are advised not to tell their abuser that they are leaving them, especially if they are living together. While many may feel the need to "come clean" and announce they're moving out, it increases the danger for domestic violence victims, Parekh said.
"We advise victims when they're in the process of leaving that they don't tell the abuser that they're making those preparations. That they actually get out of the situation and find a safe place before they communicate their decision to leave," she said.
If a person is planning on leaving an abusive relationship and fears there won't be enough time to pack their items unnoticed, or if they have to leave in the middle of the night, have a bag already packed with basic essentials and leave it at someone else's house and know how to gain access to important documents, Parekh said.
The Utah Domestic Violence Council has a toll-free, anonymous telephone line, 1-800-897-LINK (5465), for assistance with domestic violence-related issues. Information on resources can be found on the council's website, udvc.org.
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