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A sad, familiar story

January 06, 1997

The past Friday, The Herald-Mail reported a story that was appallingly familiar. A man under a court order to stay away from his wife shot and killed her Jan. 1, then took his own life. By now it's apparent that for some men, a marital break-up costs them the inner strength and perspective it takes to deal with personal tragedies. By now it should be apparent that the justice system must try another way to bring such men back to reality.

Leon Carbaugh Sr. demonstrated just how far gone he was June 15, when he held a gun to his wife's head for an hour-and-a-half, withdrawing it only when she promised to return and live with him again.

After that, she sought a protective order and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department was supposed to confiscate his weapons, which included a number of shotguns, one with a sawed-off barrel, two machine guns and a small silver handgun.

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Some questions remain. Did Carbaugh give the guns to a third party, as Sheriff Robert B. Wollyhung said he had arranged to do? If so, where did the murder weapon come from? And why didn't Carbaugh's possession of an illegal weapon - the sawed-off shotgun - trigger other charges?

We trust those answers will be forthcoming, but the reality is that a man determined to do violence to a woman will find a way. How to get him to stop trying is the puzzle.

We believe when a protective order is issued against someone, that person should be taken to the penitentiary to visit someone serving a life sentence for killing a spouse, to see for himself what a dreary, mind-numbing waste of a life that is. That person should also visit the survivors of such an attack - the children and other relatives - to hear how their lives have changed. If such men care nothing for themselves, they might at least be inspired to care for their own kids.

We've made this suggestion many times, but no one, to our knowledge, has put it into practice. It seems, sadly, that drunken drivers get more help with their bad attitudes than violent men. Please, before the next woman dies, tell us why that is so.

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