St. Paul Police address uptick in domestic homicides

St. Paul has seen a slight uptick in deadly domestic violence incidents over the last couple of years, and with two already this year, victims’ advocates are expressing concern.

Two weeks ago, Corrina Woodhull was murdered by her estranged husband during a bible study at a family member’s house. The murder marked the second domestic homicide in St. Paul since January.

"I know first hand what it's like to be in that situation," said domestic violence survivor Christy James. "It literally took everything out of me to survive every day."

James is a victim advocate with the St. Paul and Ramsey County Intervention Project. She says the upward trend of domestic homicides is disturbing. She said a call to the crisis line, and the joint coordination of police, prosecutors and advocates likely saved her life.

"The first time I reached out, my hand was grabbed back and it was never let go of until the situation was resolved," she said. "I’m standing here because of that."

According to St. Paul Police, there were nine domestic homicides in 2022 and 2021, preceded by eight in 2020. Compare that to 2019, when there were only two domestic-related homicides and 2018 when there were four.

"The difficulty that we’re having is how do we identify those ahead of time?" said Commander Eric Skog with St. Paul Police.

Skog says the city’s Blueprint for Safety plan to protect victims and hold abusers accountable works extremely well, but it relies on the victim reaching out for help.

"We get it - people have different experiences with police," said Skog. "But if we have other avenues for them to get the same result it's better for everyone."

The Blueprint for Safety plan is an all-encompassing intervention model that connects the city’s various criminal justice agencies and community support groups with the goal of maximizing safety for victims and holding abusers accountable.

Skog says of the two domestic homicides so far this year, the victims had not previously reached out to police to report their abuser.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can contact the St. Paul and Ramsey County Domestic Abuse Intervention Project at (651) 645-2824. For those outside of Ramsey County, the statewide crisis line is (866) 223-1111.