Man accused of kidnapping wife and killing her father has history of violating protective orders

A deeper look inside what makes protective orders work

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The search for the man accused of kidnapping his wife and murdering his father-in-law is over, but a big question remains... why was he out of jail to begin with?

Terry Whitehouse, 37, had just been released from jail without bail the day before the manhunt began. He had been arrested for violating a protection order his wife took out against him, and it wasn’t the first time.

Cases of domestic violence are all different, so there’s no real telling what lead up to this, but by looking at the history of police reports and charges, stretching back to 2010, there are some clues.

“There are situations where it is kind of a headscratcher an individual might have been released,” Mary Savage, with the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said.

In 2016 Terry Whitehouse had violated an emergency protective order his wife Melinda took out against him. He did it again a week ago.

“It is definitely a high risk indicator when someone violates a protective order. They’re basically saying to the court and to law enforcement ‘I don’t care, I’m going to violate it’ and that shows that person is more dangerous,” Savage said.

So if there was a history of Whitehouse ignoring the EPO before, why was he released without bail the day before the manhunt?

“We do have a statue in Kentucky that directs judges to look very carefully at cases where someone has been arrested for assaultive crimes, a sexual assault or violation of a protective order, and they’re supposed to craft conditions of release that will protect the victim of that crime if that person is released from custody,” Savage said.

The state is looking heavily at criminal justice reforms, specifically issues with pre-trial releases.

“I’m not sure we do the best job that we can to keep those people who pose a risk to the public or somebody else in custody pre-trial and yet not make simply money be a barrier for someone to be released from jail as they await their trial,” Savage said.

The Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been taking a closer look at the issues, and says protective orders are usually very effective.

A University of Kentucky study from 2010 shows protective orders work 50-percent of the time. In the other 50-percent, the violence is reduced.

Savage says there are many factors that contribute to the success.

“They have to have the support of law enforcement and the court system,” Savage said. “The protective order isn’t going to be very useful unless it has some teeth to it and it can be enforceable.”

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