Chief Program Officer Reveals Alarming Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Palm Beach County

Boynton Beach, Fla. – The issue of domestic violence continues to plague Palm Beach County, with an alarming number of 4,500 to 5,000 documented cases each year, according to the chair of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team. This concerning news comes in the wake of a tragic incident where a Boynton Beach woman was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend earlier this week.

The community has been left horrified and traumatized by this senseless act of violence. A neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, recounted the terrifying moment she heard gunshots. “I was home at the time, I was getting ready for work. At approximately 8:54, I glanced at the microwave,” she said. “Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, and I immediately dove to the ground.”

The Boynton Beach police have identified the suspect as Robens Cesar, the victim’s ex-boyfriend. The fatal shooting occurred in broad daylight at the victim’s apartment complex on Meadows Circle. The neighbor, still shaken by the incident, described the haunting sight she witnessed from her window. “I crawled to the window and peeked out through the blind, and I saw my neighbor’s lifeless body behind a car.”

According to the arrest report, Cesar confessed to the crime, revealing that they had recently broken up, and he was desperate to reconcile with her. He couldn’t bear the thought of her being with another man. Shockingly, just 45 minutes before the shooting, the victim had gone to the Boynton Beach Police department to report Cesar’s stalking and harassment.

In light of this tragic event, WPTV reporter Tory Dunnan asked Jennifer Rey, the chief program officer at Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), if there are lessons to be learned from this story. Rey emphasized the critical role of recognizing stalking as a risk factor for homicide. “We know that a large number of people who are murdered by their partner are stalked prior to being murdered by their abusive partner,” she stated.

Rey, who is also the co-chair of the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team in Palm Beach County, stressed the importance of learning from such cases to prevent future instances of domestic violence. “We do that for the purposes of creating a timeline to understand the relationship dynamics really from start to finish and determine what were the risk factors for domestic violence, homicide in that case,” she explained.

The statistics regarding domestic violence in Palm Beach County are alarming. On average, there are between 4,500 and 5,000 documented cases of domestic violence each year, with an annual count of 6 to 12 domestic violence-related homicides. The neighboring counties of Martin and St. Lucie also face significant challenges, as reported offenses for domestic violence in 2020 reached 462 and just over 1,600, respectively. Martin County reported one death related to domestic violence, while St. Lucie County reported three deaths. In comparison, Palm Beach County recorded 10 domestic violence-related murders in the same year.

The Boynton Beach Police Department has initiated an internal affairs investigation to ensure all actions taken were in accordance with established policies and procedures. The involved officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation.

As the community grapples with this tragic loss, the neighbor expressed her faith and called for awareness and vigilance. “The only thing I can do is pray and have faith in God, and he will direct my path from this point on,” she said. “It’s unfortunate this happened to her; this could happen to anyone.”

In the face of such distressing incidents, it is essential to remember that help is available for victims of domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-7233.

– Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA)
– Boynton Beach Police Department

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