PROVIDENCE — Police officers found the bodies of a man and woman in a home here Thursday afternoon in what the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is calling the first domestic violence homicide of 2018 in Rhode Island.
A woman who was picking up her grandson from the home said the 4-year-old told her that he heard gunshots and that his mother was dead. The police responded to the home after shots were reported at about 3:40 p.m.
The grandmother, Vankham Sonevong, identified the woman as her 24-year-old daughter, Vicky. She said the man, Steve Soundara, 28, was her daughter's boyfriend. Sonevong said that Soundara had threatened to kill her daughter.
Providence police recovered the gun believed to have been used in both deaths.
The domestic violence coalition said that Vicky Sonevong lived in the apartment with the boy and her 6-year-old daughter.
“We are particularly distressed to learn that Vicky’s two young children were in the direct vicinity of the apartment when the murder-suicide occurred,” the coalition said in its statement. “No child should ever have to experience the loss of their mother to such a tragedy or endure the suffering caused by violence in the home.”
The coalition said: “Let us be sure to call murder-suicides what they are: the ultimate act of domestic violence.” Its statement quoted news reports that Soundara had abused Vicky over the course of many years and repeatedly threatened to take her life. “Vicky and Soundara were also often estranged, and we know that ending an abusive relationship can be one of the most dangerous times for a victim,” the group said.
“Domestic violence murder is rarely an isolated incident, but is often the final act in a pattern of abuse … Certain factors indicate an increased risk for domestic homicide; for example, when a firearm is present in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide for women is five times greater than when a firearm is not present,” the statement said.
The statemen was issued by Deborah DeBare, executive director of the coalition; Vanessa Volz, executive director of Sojourner House, an area domestic violence service; and Channavy Chhay, executive director of the Center for Southeast Asians, Providence.