Jerome Gallon was shot in the back of the head during an argument with his girlfriend about his suspected infidelity.
Carlene Pierre was gunned down by her estranged boyfriend, Michelet Polynice, a day after she filed an injunction against him. Vanessa Gonzales Orellanes, Pierre's co-worker and friend, was also killed when Polynice opened fire inside the hotel where they worked.
They are among seven people — five victims and two suspects who later committed suicide — who died in domestic violence-related homicides in recent weeks. The spate of killings, which began Sept. 27, has doubled the number of domestic-violence related deaths in Orange County this year.
The uptick in domestic violence slayings has homicide detectives at Orange County Sheriff's Office and Orlando Police Department scrambling for answers.
"As with all homicides, they are hard to predict," said Sheriff's Lt. Paul Zambouros, who oversees the homicide unit. "These are crimes of passion. Feelings just explode and it leads to spontaneous violence."
That may have been what happened on Oct. 11, when James Albert Goines, 55, was stabbed to death while playing cards with his girlfriend at their Parramore home. Marilyn Green, 58, is charged with first-degree murder his death.
Zambouros encourages people to speak out if they recognize that their loved ones are in abusive relationships.
"Sometimes victims of domestic violence can't speak for themselves," Zambouros said. "You might be saving someone's life."
Earlier this month, 41-year-old Nicholette White was trying to sever the relationship with her long-time boyfriend Donald Stephenson and kicked him out of the house. But Stephenson wanted to marry White and wouldn't take no for an answer. On Sept. 30, he stabbed White to death in front of the couple's 8-year-old daughter, then slit his own throat.
Friends say they didn't know of any violence between the couple and records indicate deputies were never called to the home on any domestic violence incidents.
In the majority of domestic violence killings, couples have a history of escalating violence which isn't always reported to police. The most dangerous time for victims is when they are trying to leave the abuser.
Pierre's death also came at a time when she was trying to leave. Two weeks before the deadly shooting at the Quality Suites, Polynice tried to run her over in the parking lot as she left work.
The day before the shooting, deputies served him with a domestic violence injunction and ordered him to stay away from her. Polynice, who has a lengthy history of violence against women, killed Pierre and Gonzales Orellanes, then drove to a nearby resort and shot and injured a third woman. While leading deputies on a chase through Pine Hills, Polynice shot himself in the head.
"We don't have anything that is attributing to the rash [of killings] right now," said Carol Wick, the CEO of Harbor House of Central Florida, which runs the domestic violence shelter in Orange County. "I wish I had an explanation, because then I could do something to stop it."
The killings come as advocates observe Domestic Violence Awareness month, which started October 1. Numerous events are being held this month, including several fundraisers and the outreach efforts through "It Takes Courage," a partnership between Harbor House and the Orlando Police Department.
Earlier this month, volunteers hung thousands of door handle fliers at Orlando homes with information about the program and Harbor House. Since the fliers went out, 38 families cited the fliers as the reason they sought shelter from abusive relationships, Wick said.
"Even doing just a little bit makes a difference," she said.
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Seven dead in recent spate of domestic violence murders
Sept. 27, 8 a.m.: Carlene Pierre and her co-worker Vanessa Gonzales Orellanes, both 28, were gunned down inside the Quality Suites hotel near International Drive by Pierre's estranged boyfriend, 33-year-old Michelete Polynice. He then drove to another location, shot a third woman and then killed himself while fleeing from Orange County deputies.
Sept. 30, 5:30 p.m.: Nicholette White, 41, was stabbed to death inside her home in the Stag Horn Villas by her longtime boyfriend Donald Stephenson. The couple's 8-year-old daughter was present during the stabbing, but ran from the home to get help from a neighbor. Stephenson, 47, slit his own throat and died.
Oct. 1, 9 p.m.: Jerome Gallon, 61, was shot in the back of the head inside the garage at his girlfriend's home in Pine Hills. Janice Smith, 49, called 911 to report the homicide and was charged with first-degree murder. Orange deputies said Smith confessed to shooting Gallon during an argument about possible infidelity.
Oct. 11, 3 p.m.: James Albert Goines, 55, was stabbed to death at home on West Gore Street in Parramore. Goines' girlfriend, Marilyn Green, 58, is charged with first-degree murder his death.
Domestic Violence Hotlines
If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, help is available through the region's domestic violence hotlines
Harbor House, Orlando: 407-886-2856
SafeHouse of Seminole: 407-330-3933
Help Now of Osceola County: 407-847-8562
Haven of Lake County: 352-753-5800
Domestic Abuse Council Inc: 386-255-2102 (Daytona Beach)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun