Professor at West Liberty University: Stress Could Be At The Core Of Recent Violent Crimes | News, sports, jobs


File Photo The Ohio Valley was recently hit by a spate of violent crime, including killings in Moundsville (pictured), Mozart and Belmont. A West Liberty University criminology professor believes stress can be an important factor.

WHEELING – A tumultuous second half of September marks a sharp rise in violence in the Ohio Valley, and a West Liberty University professor puts this in context.

The last weeks of this month saw a litany of bloody days starting with a murder in Mozart on September 16. The next week began with the shooting of a man on Wheelings 29th Street. The next day, when this man was hospitalized, Belmont County MPs announced a double homicide in Belmont, Ohio. Then, late that week, a Moundsville man murdered his roommate with a machete before he committed suicide.

Keith Bell, Program Coordinator of Criminal Justice and Criminology at WLU, who holds a PhD in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, believes the various violent crimes could be a symptom of domestic tension, combining several factors in the course of COVID-19 Pandemic. These problems range from spending more time with family – which can lead to stress and arguments in difficult living conditions – to increased drug and alcohol use, possibly linked to unemployment.

“If we put a theory on it, it would be the theory of elongation,” Bell said on Wednesday. “Everyone is exposed to increased stress at the moment. … Unemployment, lack of income, that is enormous – that burdens all family members, regardless of whether they are children, marriage, whatever. “

“The Moundsville case, we haven’t heard all of the facts, but it has just been announced as a ‘domestic incident’. It could have been about money, it could have been a relationship, it could have been over (someone got kicked out of the house for drugs, ”he added.

“… It could have been a lot of things, but that would be a theory of elongation. Especially if someone is not used to the pressure in their life. “

The death of Anorah Schostag in Mozart resulted in WIlliam Ross Carman being charged with first degree murder after Schostag was found in her apartment on Frazier Run Road with “a large, deep wound on her neck and a large wound on her chest.” became. Daniel Isaac Wines was charged with attempted murder after allegedly telling police that he shot a man in the back “in self-defense” on September 20.

Belmont couple Thomas and Angela Strussion died on September 21 in a double homicide by Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas. No arrests related to her death had been made as of Friday, although Anthony Michael Dibacco and Maylyn Smith were arrested for extortion on Thomas Strussion.

On September 25, police said Nicholas White attacked 71-year-old Thomas McKeever with a machete while McKeever was in the shower before shooting himself. Both men died in the process.

Too close for comfort?

Bell said that because of the Ohio Valley’s smaller cities leading to more people knowing each other, in addition to the increased time they spend around others, he speculates that many of these violent episodes end up with problems at home could be connected.

“This is not a random guy jumping off the freeway and killing someone he doesn’t know,” he said. “There’s a relationship there; in Wheeling, in small towns like this, we see that statistically. … Usually, victims and perpetrators know each other in a large percentage of the murders that happen here. “

Bell said the COVID-19 pandemic has given his family significantly more time to spend together, even though his wife, a nurse, spends longer hours at work more days a week. While Bell said his family dynamics are healthy and that his family values ​​the time they spend together, other families may not have the same dynamics, which creates problems over the weeks.

“When you are together more, you will have more problems. That’s the nature of the animal, ”he said. “… There is more family time, which is a good thing – when your family structure is solid. (If a family is dysfunctional) it will lead to a longer dysfunctional period.

“If I were to put all of this together I would say that the increased stress of unemployment due to COVID will lead to increased alcoholism and substance abuse, and these will lead to increased domestic situations. … Is there a possibility that the risk of domestic abuse will increase? Absolutely yes. Will they go as far as the murder? I would speculate, no. “

an anomaly, not a trend

Bell said crime has generally decreased noticeably in recent years, although violent crime has remained relatively constant. The base rate of crimes like homicide in the Ohio Valley is very low, so any increase above the norm is a large percentage increase.

“If you look at the crimes that are happening, the crimes of the past were more like drugs compared to the problems we had in the past. If you go back and look at our crime statistically, … in Wheeling, 2018, 2019, we saw a steady decline in crime. The only crimes that are increasing are assault and drug offenses, but many of our crimes have decreased. “

Bell also commented that he believed the Wheeling Police Department had been very proactive in preventing crime, which he believed was contrary to a trend towards more crime at a general level.

“I think this emphasis on crime prevention puts a lot off this crime and is why our communities are relatively safe. Additionally, I think we have many resources for people who suffer in violent relationships, and those resources support the same mission, ”he said. “Many communities across the country have not been as proactive in deterring personal and property crime as the Ohio Valley. Therefore, in my opinion, this appears to be a statistical anomaly at the time and not a trend. “

A generation insecure

Bell’s fears about the future are the long-term effects of the COVID pandemic on children who may not be as socialized as their peers.

“Think of the child who had to stay at home for two semesters in elementary school, but was not properly nourished, not receiving proper medical care, had not seen a doctor for 16 months, was abused. What’s wrong with you when you’re in this environment? ”He said.

“We’re talking about the recent murders, but what really scares me is how will that affect fourth, fifth, and sixth graders 10 years from now? What problems will you have? … That’s what scares me the most about the lockdown stuff, not necessarily the crimes and things that are happening now. It scares me what will happen in ten years and how it will affect the children. “

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