PRESS CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN RESPONSE TO OCONEE COUNTY HOMICIDES

Safe Harbor and the Solicitor’s Office of the 10th Judicial Circuit will hold a press conference on Friday, July 13 at 1:00pm on the steps of the Oconee County Courthouse in Walhalla, SC.

Safe Harbor is deeply saddened by the news of the two murder-suicide incidents that occurred in Oconee County last weekend, killing victims Marjorie Putnam and 11-year-old Riley Nicole Dyer-Tippett.

http://www.wyff4.com/news/local-news/oconee-pickens-news/Man-shoots-wife-daughter-before-killing-himself/-/9654906/15440856/-/p1ididz/-/index.html

http://www.wyff4.com/news/local-news/oconee-pickens-news/Deputies-Husband-wife-killed-in-murder-suicide/-/9654906/15435114/-/9ngwj2/-/index.html

These stories are especially alarming and upsetting for our organization as we continue to see an increasing need for additional resources for victims of domestic violence and their children, especially in Oconee County.  Safe Harbor provides services for victims of domestic violence in Greenville, Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties. 

Currently, Safe Harbor has 2 shelters – one in Greenville and one in Anderson.  Safe Harbor has been working on increasing our capacity to open a third shelter in Oconee County.  Due to a decrease in funding support from VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) and a growing increase in the demand for victim services, Safe Harbor needs increased support from the Oconee community now more than ever. In order to start a successful capital campaign towards building an Oconee shelter, Safe Harbor needs the Oconee community to join in recognizing domestic violence as a priority issue. 

The horrific stories of the Putnam family and Tippett family remind us how imperative it is that we gain support from citizens, faith communities and businesses of Oconee County in order to provide a safe and confidential shelter where Oconee victims of domestic violence and their children can receive the support they need to start a new life free from violence. 

Safe Harbor has seen a 25% increase in our numbers of shelter clients over the past 3 years.  In 2009, Safe Harbor provided shelter for 543 people (327 women; 241 children); in 2010, Safe Harbor sheltered 623 people (398 women; 225 children); in 2011, Safe Harbor sheltered 714 people (447 women; 267 children) and had to refer 197 victims to other agencies due to lack of bed space. 

Safe Harbor’s goal of opening a shelter in Oconee County would undoubtedly save lives of victims and their children in the Upstate of South Carolina.  Today, however, we grieve alongside the family and friends of Marjorie Putnam and 11-year-old Riley Nicole Dyar Tippett. 

Safe Harbor Executive Director, Becky Callaham, and the 10th Circuit Oconee County Assistant Solicitor, Lindsey Simmons, will hold a press conference on Friday, July 13 at 1:00pm on the steps of the Oconee County Courthouse in Walhalla, SC.  They will make statements in lieu of these recent tragic deaths, encouraging the community to rally together to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence and to support Safe Harbor in its effort to open a shelter for victims and their children in Oconee County.  Safe Harbor invites community members and members of the press to attend in order to raise public awareness about this issue.