Barbara’s Story

Disarm Domestic Violence
3 min readJun 27, 2018

Just after 5:00 a.m. on February 25, 2014, Kevin Palmer walked more than two miles from his parked truck to the home where his estranged wife and son were staying with her parents in Glade Spring, Virginia. He was carrying a rifle and a revolver in his belt holster. The bulky 44-year-old Palmer smashed out a window in the residence’s garage and broke through the garage’s interior door, forcing his way into the home. He shot his father-in-law, Terry Griffin, 75, and his wife, Kristin Palmer, 46.

Kristin’s 17-year-old son Griffin called 911 to say that two people had been shot, but the call was dropped. A few minutes later, a reverse 911 call was made to the home and the teenager answered, telling the operator that he had just been shot. Moments later, Kevin shot his mother-in-law, Nancy, 74, before turning the gun on himself. Terry was able to crawl the length of a football field to find help at a neighboring home.

This is my family’s story. Terry, my father, was the only survivor. Nancy, my mother, Kristin, my sister, and Griffin, my nephew, were all killed. We must do more to stop domestic violence from becoming domestic homicide. That is why the Disarm DV project is so vital.

Kristin and Griffin had suffered from years of physical, mental, and emotional abuse at the hands of Kevin, my brother-in-law. They had signed criminal complaints on February 19, 2014 — less than one week before the murders — that resulted in his arrest on two counts of assault and battery.

In an affidavit, filed the day before she was murdered/killed, my sister detailed the abuse:

“He has kicked me, strangled me, tried to drown me, slapped me, dragged me by the hair, and bit me during arguments. He has kicked, whipped, pulled his hair, and hit my child when ‘disciplining’ him.”

Despite my sister’s account of the horrific abuse they suffered, my brother-in-law posted bond and was released the same day. Mere hours prior to the murders, Kristin was granted an Emergency Protective Order against Kevin. My parents were also granted a protective order against Kevin. The protective order made it illegal for Kevin to purchase or transport firearms, but he was allowed to retain his existing collection. It was well known he had an extensive arsenal of firearms. He often bragged that he owned enough guns to take out the entire state of West Virginia.

Approximately half of women killed by their intimate partner had contact with the criminal justice system regarding the abuse within a year of their murders. My sister was one of those women. My sister went to every agency and law enforcement she could speak to and was very frustrated that the authorities couldn’t take away her abuser’s firearms. She tried everything she could.

While federal law prohibits domestic abusers from possessing guns, implementing these laws and successfully removing guns from abusers must be done at the state and local level. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions lack the laws, resources, or tools to effectively disarm domestic abusers — and that is a tragedy. In honor of my sister, I am doing all I can to make sure that no family ever has to go through the nightmare my family endured.

“Disarm Domestic Violence,” which will be a resource for survivors, advocates, law enforcement, judges, and others. Disarm Domestic Violence, a first-of-its-kind, interactive web-based tool, will provide a comprehensive protocol for firearm removal at the state level. This tool will give victims and survivors the information necessary to help disarm abusers. Under our current system, many victims and survivors of domestic violence do not receive the protection they deserve. We must do more to help and empower them. This project will save lives.

It is tragic that my sister is no longer here. She was a wonderful daughter, mother, and sister. Women like my sister deserve to live without fear of their armed abusers. I will never stop advocating for them — for us.

Together, we can disarm domestic abusers and save lives.



Disarm Domestic Violence

Creating a unique, comprehensive database of state laws regarding DV and guns. Empowering victims, survivors, and advocates.