Domestic violence doesn’t only occur between couples

Most people assume that domestic violence only occurs between husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, and that it’s indicative of trouble in a romantic relationship. But domestic violence in Pennsylvania is defined as “knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury of any kind, causing fear of bodily injury of any kind, assault (sexual or not sexual), rape, sexually abusing minor children, or knowingly engaging in a repetitive conduct toward a certain person (i.e. stalking) that puts them in fear of bodily injury.”

Domestic violence can occur between family or household members, between sexual partners, and between those who share biological parents.

The case of Lorrie Ann Demko and her son Jacob Taliaferro illustrates that domestic violence need not be carried out by one romantic partner on another. According to the affidavit of probable cause in this case, on June 6 of 2016, Palmyra, Pa., police were dispatched to a Palmyra residence at 5:02 a.m. when Jacob Taliaferro called 911 to report that he’d killed his mother and wanted to turn himself in.

Police arrived four minutes later, and Taliaferro exited the house, still on the phone with dispatchers. He complied with orders to show his hands and lie face down on the ground, and was arrested before officers inspected the house to find his mother, Lorrie Demko, dead in a back bedroom with “a large laceration to her chest.”

According to the affidavit, Taliaferro was interviewed at 7:45 that morning, after being taken into custody, and told police that “he took a knife from the kitchen…and stabbed his mother, Lorrie Ann Demko, in the chest. Taliaferro stated he took a piece of rope and strangled her until she died. Taliaferro stated he checked her neck and found she had no pulse. Taliaferro stated he then watched TV for some time, took a shower, and eventually called 911 to turn himself into police.”

Neighbors and friends reported at the time that Taliaferro had issues with his mother, and that he didn’t want to talk to her, but that no one really knew what the issue was or why it persisted. Other than the affidavit and small interviews with neighbors, there is not much information about what drove Taliaferro to murder his mother.

While in jail, Taliaferro has been charged with assault on a guard after an argument over his having toilet paper in his cell, which was considered contraband given that he was on suicide watch at the time, led to him spitting either on or at the guard (it’s unclear whether he intended to spit on the guard or not).

Taliaferro is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 30 of this year for criminal homicide.

A Safe Place will be hosting a candlelight vigil on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on the steps of the Warren County Courthouse. Juliet Sharrow, a domestic violence survivor with the Office of Victim’s Advocates, will speak. In case of rain, the vigil will be held inside the courthouse.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with a domestic violence or abuse issue, contact A Safe Place at (814) 726-1030 or 1-800-338-3460.