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Murders hit close to home on North Whidbey

The shock and pain from the shooting in Freeland early Thursday morning reverberated to the North end of Whidbey Island this week.

One of the victims, Marjorie Monnett, was well-known among the people who work to prevent the kind of domestic violence that ended her life, and the life of her daughter, early Thursday morning.

Erika Sanders, the program manager at the Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Assault, said CADA advocates, who were friends with Monnett, are taking the news “pretty personally and pretty hard.”

“It’s really driving us right now,” Sanders said. “We want to be more visible and more active than ever.”

Monnett was known in Coupeville and Oak Harbor as an enthusiastic advocate for the poor. The 55-year-old Freeland woman worked at the Housing Authority as a family self-sufficiency coordinator.

Her boss, Steve Guilliford, said Monnett has been involved in many different groups, including the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers / Big Sisters and New Leaf.

“She was one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people I’ve ever known,” Guilliford said. “She was a very compassionate individual.”

CADA employees joined with employees at the Department of Social and Health Services — who also knew Monnett well — for a group counseling session Friday to talk about the murders.

It definitely hasn’t been a good week for advocates of the abused on Whidbey.

Sunday night, Oak Harbor police officers shot and killed a man who was stabbing his wife in the chest. The victim, 30-year-old Mary Ann Pearsall, is recuperating in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Then Thursday, 27-year-old Preston Dean “Hugh” Douglas went to Monnett’s Freeland home and killed her and his fiancee — Monnett’s daughter — 30-year-old Holly Swartz. He was apparently angry because Swartz reported to police the day before that Douglas sexually abused her 6-year-old daughter.

Douglas also shotgunned Bruce Monnett, Swartz’s 22-year-old brother, and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Sierra Klug. They are both recuperating at Harborview Medical Center.

Sanders said that one positive thing that can come out of these tragedies is that the “community can really pull together and say we absolutely, absolutely do not want that here.”

While CADA advocates were stunned by the murders, they weren’t exactly surprised. After all, Sanders pointed out, intimate partners — boyfriends, husbands, etc. — commit 30 to 50 percent of all female homicides.

The worst thing that could happen now, Sanders said, is that a murder so close to home could further isolate domestic violence victims or reinforce the fear that they can’t safely leave their abusers.

CADA and other agencies are there to help, ever if it’s just to talk.

“Calls to CADA are free and confidential,” she said. “It’s a powerful thing to be able to call and talk to someone.”

CADA’s 24-hour crisis line is 675-CADA or 1-800-215-5669.

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