Relative of 3 family members killed speaks out

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Associated Press

Posted on February 4, 2013 at 9:01 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A woman who lost three relatives during a custody exchange in a Hazard parking lot says there neesd to be more secure centers for such exchanges.

Police said a gunman enraged by a domestic dispute shot and killed his former girlfriend, her uncle and her cousin last month in the parking lot of the Hazard Community and Technical College.

Missy Cornett was married to Jackie Douglas Cornett. The 53-year-old was among those killed, along with 20-year-old Caitlin Cornett and 12-year-old Taylor Cornett.

Police have charged 21-year-old Dalton Stidham with three counts of murder.

Missy Cornett recently told the Lexington Herald-Leader she believes her family members would be alive if Kentucky offered more protections for estranged parents at risk of domestic violence.

"They thought that a school was a safe place. We see that it wasn't," Missy Cornett said in a telephone interview. "If they had some kind of exchange place where they had to walk through metal detectors, just to keep the violence down, and one (parent) leave before the other," it might help families in the future, she said.

There are secure centers in Lexington and Louisville where supervised exchanges take place so that parents don't have to see each other, but officials say that in most parts of the state such services are non-existent.

Child exchanges often occur in parking lots of stores and fast-food restaurants, which advocates say is not always safe.

"We must explore ways to create safe exchange centers throughout the state in response to the tragedy in Hazard," said Darlene Thomas, executive director of the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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