The number of domestic violence homicide victims in Minnesota in 2015 has risen to 22, with the murders of Mona Turner and Grace Ann VanNorman.
On September 17, 54 year-old Ramona “Mona” Turner, was shot and killed by 56 year-old John “Jack” Gordon Weisner Jr., her partner of over 40 years, in their St. Paul home. Weisner then stabbed himself several times in an attempt to commit suicide. According to family, Mona had been attempting to leave the relationship for the last five years. Weisner assaulted Mona in 2009 which resulted in a misdemeanor domestic assault conviction. She reported the abuse to law enforcement and her family, and received an Order for Protection against him at that time. There were several instances of John controlling Mona and perpetrating abuse against her. Mona, who had two sons with Weisner, was killed in the presence of one of her sons and his girlfriend.
“One of the most dangerous times for a survivor of domestic violence is when they are leaving the relationship,” said Liz Richards, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. “Due to the risk for increased violence, it is important for survivors to connect with local domestic violence programs to help create a safety plan.”
On September 8, 36 year-old Grace Ann VanNorman was suffocated by her 27 year-old boyfriend Lauren Mason Grove Lynch at their apartment in Forest Lake. According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement responded to a report of a foul smell by a neighbor and found Grace dead in her living room. The Medical Examiner ruled that Grace died due to homicidal violence, with the primary cause of death being asphyxiation. Lynch confessed to punching Grace, strangling her, suffocating her with a pillow, and stabbing her with a kitchen knife several times. Lynch lived in the house with her body for three days until police arrived at the apartment. Lynch did not have any documented history of domestic violence. He has been charged with 2nd degree murder for killing Grace.
“There is not one solution to ending the plague of domestic violence on our communities,” Richards said. “Rather, there are many different steps we need to take collectively to end domestic violence homicide in Minnesota. We can support to local domestic violence programs with money and resources. We can spread public awareness in our communities, by participating in initiatives such as the Live Free Without Violence flag campaign, and through conversations and social media posts.”
To honor the lives of Mona Turner and Grace Ann VanNorman, over 500 agencies, organizations, businesses, and individuals from across the state will raise the Live Free Without Violence flag, a public awareness campaign spearheaded by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women.
If you are a victim experiencing abuse, contact Day One at 866-223-1111 to connect with services.