December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Domestic violence group, friends of homicide victim gather for vigil

ELYRIA — The death of Lauren Moore ended a long pattern of abuse, friends of the homicide victim said at a Sunday candlelight vigil at Ely Square.

Moore, 26, was found Thursday in the Washington Avenue apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Vernon Shallenberger. Shallenberger, 27, has been charged with murder.

Max Young, a childhood friend of Moore’s, said he saw bruises on Moore’s arm in December when he stopped to buy cigarettes at Smoker’s Warehouse at 516 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, where Moore worked. Young said Moore — then pregnant with her third child — told him Shallenberger was responsible, but not to get involved. Young said Shallenberger would drink and verbally abuse Moore when Young visited the two at their apartment.

“I felt bad for her, but I felt like there was not much I could do because she didn’t want me to intervene,” said Young, who cried earlier as he told the approximately 75 vigil participants how he and Moore had played miniature golf as children. “I regret not doing something. It’s not fair.”

Police said they were called to Moore’s home May 26, and the couple’s 4-month-old daughter, 3-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son were removed from the home by a relative. Rebecca Moore, Lauren Moore’s mother, said she last spoke to her daughter Tuesday when Lauren Moore went to her home to use the phone.

“I said, ‘Now’s not the time for blame. Now is the time to take action,’” Rebecca Moore said. “She was trying to seek that.”

Friends and relatives said Lauren Moore was able to compartmentalize the violence. They described the Elyria High School graduate as outgoing and upbeat, a loving mother and daughter who shopped at antique and thrift stores in her spare time.

“She was an absolutely beautiful person and she had enormous heart,” said Moore’s sister, Heather Van Luit. “She cared about people more than anything else.”

There have been approximately 35 Lorain County domestic violence-related homicides since 1989, according to Virginia Beckman, executive director of Genesis House, a domestic violence shelter. There were three women killed in the last year in the county by their intimate partners. Last year, 68 people, 38 of them victims, were killed in domestic violence incidents in Ohio, according to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

Gerri Cahill-Miller, founder and president of the Purple Lotus Project, the domestic violence prevention group that organized the vigil, told the crowd she survived domestic violence. Cahill-Miller urged them to speak out against violence and confront victims if they see signs of it.

“They should not be shameful of what they’re going through,” she said. “And you should not feel embarrassed by asking them the questions that could save their life.”

Rebecca Moore said she hopes domestic violence victims will learn from her daughter’s death and break the cycle of violence.

“As soon as something happens, you need to leave. Don’t think it’s going to get better, because, eventually, it will not,” Moore said. “You may end up being my daughter.”

Shallenberger is due in Elyria Municipal Court today. He was being held without bond at the Lorain County Jail on Sunday night.

Shallenberger’s criminal record includes convictions for drunken driving, forgery and receiving stolen property.

Shanelle Brooks, who said she had known Moore since 1990, described Shallenberger — who went by the name Ross — as “abusive, controlling and possessive.”

Brooks said she repeatedly told Moore to leave Shallenberger, who she said Moore had been living with since 2007.

“She told me she stayed because it was the only life she knew,” Brook said. “And she was scared to leave.”

Victim assistance

Domestic violence victims or people seeking help for them can contact the Purple Lotus Project at (440) 201-9292 or purplelotusproject.org.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.