Sarah Spirit of Bell, Fl., was 22 years old and eight months pregnant with her fourth child when she called the police to say her father was violent, she was afraid of him, and she had nowhere to go, says the New York Times. Ms. Spirit told a court her father threatened to make her life “hell” if she called the authorities. Although she did not follow up on her request for a restraining order, he was sentenced to six months in jail on a battery charge that arose that same week.
On Thursday, police said Don Spirit killed his daughter, now 28; her six children; and then himself, making the case the seventh domestic-related multiple homicide in Florida this year. The Spirits lived together in a cycle of extreme poverty, drug addiction and domestic violence. The family's story shows how a downward spiral of drug use, debt and repeated arrests can sometimes result in extreme violence, despite interventions by the authorities. Social workers sent parole authorities to the Spirit home a month ago. It is also a reminder that amid the recent focus on domestic violence, it is not just spouses and boyfriends who can be assailants.