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Domestic abuse prosecutor weighs in on Livingston Parish murders

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BATON ROUGE - Dakota Theriot is said to have committed the worst crime within two parishes. He's accused of murdering five people in a killing-spree in Livingston and Ascension parishes before driving to Virginia where he was apprehended, and is currently being held isolated from other inmates at the jail.

"In the last few years, it has been the worst domestic violence that we have seen in Ascension Parish," said Sheriff Bobby Webre.

Domestic violence prosecutor Melanie Fields says there is only one way to describe the tragedy.

"Well, sad, obviously we are saddened by any murder," said Fields.

She's seen this play out before, and gives possibilities as to what could have happened. She says in any domestic violence dispute there are signs to recognized.

"The signs are about power and control, there are power and control issues," said Fields.

She says in a domestic family, or intimate partner relationship, one person may seek this control by exerting sexual, physical, or financial abuse on their partner.

"But it all starts with emotional abuse, and then it crosses into physical abuse," said Fields.

If the abuser sees him or herself losing control, Fields says, things can spiral out of control and become violent.

"And when they see the victim, wanting to be independent wanting to get away, they become angrier," she said. "Unfortunately, maybe it happened in this case, but in many cases they become homicidal."

It's still unclear as to what lead Theriot to commit the shootings, but he allegedly killed his girlfriend, her father, and her brother, among others.

"What you find in many mass shootings, perhaps in this case, they go and they want to kill, they want to kill that person and anybody else in the room or in the area," said Fields.

If detected early, Fields believes incidents like these can be prevented. 

"There are physical signs that are closely seen by a family member, a coworker," said Fields.

She says it's important to speak up if something is not right.

"And so we tell you that if you see something, say something."

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