This article was originally published on by Tim Hahn on January 28, 2018

The calls starting coming more often during the summer of 2018.

Marinda Matasowski’s relationship with her boyfriend was deteriorating. The 20-year-old would call her mother when their arguments turned violent.

“A lot of times it was a phone call with her crying that he had hit her,” said Matasowski’s mother, Kim Lobaugh. “I really wanted her to leave him. Somehow she always ended up back there.”

The cycle ended tragically on Aug. 2.

Millcreek Township police charge that Matasowski’s boyfriend, 24-year-old James M. Gilbert, fatally stabbed her at Lobaugh’s residence before stabbing himself. He survived the injury and is at the Erie County Prison awaiting prosecution for murder.

“Every day is difficult,” said Lobaugh, who cares for Matasowski’s 18-month-old son, Jaysen. “You wake up every day and have to be reminded every morning of what life is like now.”

It’s a pain too many families experienced in 2018.

In a year that shattered Erie County’s record for the most homicides, a staggering number of the killings were alleged to have been committed by a person the victim was close to — a spouse, a relative or someone with whom they’d had a relationship.

The spike in domestic killings has brought a call for a death-review panel to study the phenomenon.

Linda Lyons King, the executive director of SafeNet, the nonprofit that serves domestic abuse victims, said a review panel’s findings might reveal key insights about the 2018 deaths, such as patterns in the behavior of the perpetrators or points when the violence could have been stopped sooner.

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