Tonawanda News

The Town

October 26, 2012

Loophole closed allowing control of victim's body

(Continued)

He went on to co-sponsor part of the legislation that addresses several domestic violence issues, including an expanded definition of aggravated harassment and giving the courts more leeway in determining bail when abuse is involved. 

Ranzenhofer said the law will stop those under a order of protection obtained on behalf of a deceased individual from having legal authority over their remains. 

O’Toole said that while the family would have preferred Constance was buried alongside her mother and father in a Catholic cemetery, the real issue was the control her abuser had over her, even after Shepard killed her.

“It was irrelevant where she was buried,” O’Toole said. “It was the the question of who took the initiative and who could still hold power over someone they (killed).”  

She said that Shepard had controlled her cousin for years, often keeping her isolated from the rest of the family.  And while the motivation for the killing never came to fruition, the couple had lost their home to foreclosure just weeks before the incident.

“I hope that this new law will prevent other families from experiencing this kind of tragedy,” she said. 

The law will take effect Nov. 24.

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.

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