Publisher of The Rockwall News saw his father kill his mother, commit suicide

ROCKWALL (Editorial)- Another family violence tragedy has rocked the Rockwall County community. This time it was a married Heath doctor who, last week, committed the horrific murder-suicide of his young girlfriend in Iowa and himself, leaving behind his shocked wife, four children, family and many friends.

Last time, in June, 2010, it was the husband of highly-respected Rowlett juvenile judge Belinda Loveland who took her life and his own, two months after a Fate father killed his wife and himself in their bedroom while their two children were watching TV in another room.

A month before, another murder-suicide occurred in Rowlett. Then within a week, another man killed himself and burned down the house of his ex-wife after he attempted to kill her in Rowlett. At least one of her family pets perished in the fire.

News stories about senseless tragedies like these are not published by to sensationalize the news or try to take advantage of the circumstances to obtain more readers. Because news is defined as whatever is unusual and, since, murders and attempted killings are still highly unusual in Rockwall and surrounding areas, we print stories like these to inform members of the community who know the victims and survivors, plus alert the community to the dangers around us. We also desire to use events like these to proactively educate adults, teens and children about how to prevent, reduce and deal with such tragedies.

More stories will soon appear about domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assaults and other crimes which are taking place locally, quoting survivors and experts from law enforcement, women’s shelters, healthcare, schools, non-profits and more, whose advise can hopefully help us all to find ways to prevent and reduce the violence and abuse around us.

Family violence is the leading cause of injury to women and children in America, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. One in four women experience family violence in their lifetimes. One in 12 children suffer abuse, generally at the hands of their parents, step-parents or parents’ boyfriends or girlfriends. Shocking is the statistic that 1 in 4 girls and 6 boys will suffer sexual abuse before they reach 18 – 90% committed by family members or close friends of the family.

The publisher of, J.J. Smith (pictured above left) is particularly sensitive to the subject of family violence, because when I was just 10 years old, I witnessed the horrific murder-suicide of my mother by my father. For years our family had suffered from his abusive behavior and constant threats.

In all sincerity, my condolences, prayers and heart go out to all of the family violence victims, survivors, their families and friends. Believe me when I say, I’ve been there. I was the little boy who, with my older sisters, was pictured on the front page of both newspapers the day my parents died, plus was the lead story on all the TV & radio stations. I also became the adult constantly plagued with fear – although I never understood why – until I finally found the answer through professional counseling when I was over 50. My memories of watching my father beat and threaten my mother until she courageously left him, and then seeing him shoot and kill her and himself did not go away easily.

In order to help others suffering from the same fears, I founded the non-profit Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation 12 years ago – in memory of my mother, Lillian Smith (pictured above) – to increase awareness of the problem and encourage finding solutions. We’ve arranged and published literally thousands of news stories nationwide, plus helped a number of abuse victims to tell their stories when the legal system failed them. We also held two “Race To End Abuse” events in Rockwall and one in Frisco, which attracted hundreds of runners and raised thousands of dollars for family violence awareness.

Last year we expanded our efforts and established Americans Ending Abuse and Americans Ending Abuse PAC – the first Political Action Committee for this cause – to bolster our efforts across Texas and the entire nation. Our objective this time is to educate and empower citizens nationwide to find ways to prevent and reduce the tens of thousands of injuries and thousands of deaths needlessly caused by family violence. Board members and supporters include State Senator Bob Deuell, Texas “Superlawyer” John Browning, former Rowlett Mayor John & Debra Harper, Congressman Ralph Hall, Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel, Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper and attorney Jim Pruitt, who is now a candidate for State Representative.

Last year, thanks to the highly-commendable efforts of Sen. Deuell and State Rep. Cindy Burkett, we even passed our first state law. It is now illegal in Texas for parents and guardians to show porn to their children. Our bill was passed unanimously by both houses of the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Perry last June. It became effective Sept. 1, 2011.

Rockwall County is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. I hope and pray that we can protect our women and children here far better than they are being protected elsewhere across the nation. They are the victims 85 percent of the time, according to law enforcement. We also need to support the survivors. I’m committed to helping. So is How about you?

Will you join or support Americans Ending Abuse today and help bring an end to the national family violence epidemic? Contact me here or call 214-317-1718.

J.J. Smith, Publisher



One Response to Publisher of The Rockwall News saw his father kill his mother, commit suicide

  1. Thank you for sharing your personal tragedy. Before I moved to Texas I ran domestic abuse shelters and was very involved in the fight against domestic violence. Thank you for printing this.

    Liz Jones March 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm

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