Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Serve and Protect: Appealing Intimate Partner Homicide

On May 11, 2006, in a quiet residential street in Millville, New Jersey around 5 p.m. neighbors heard Robert Vanaman and his wife Barbara arguing. A few minutes later, using his service revolver, shots rang out killing Barbara. All in the name of self defense of course, Robert was taken to the hospital because he needed to be treated for stab wounds during the incident.

At the time of Barbara's murder Robert had been on the police force for 15 years;

Robert's father was also a Mullville police officer;

Friends and neighbors say they were "the perfect couple."

No surprise and in true cowardly abuser style Robert Vanaman hired an attorney almost immediately following the shooting; he is immune from answering any questions by police because he is represented by a lawyer; he is allowed upon leaving the hospital to return home to the crime scene where the death is still under investigation; He went on sick leave from the department for six months before he was charged with her murder. And Vanaman was also charged with criminal restraint, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, tampering with evidence, hindering prosecution and obstructing the administration of law enforcement.

Shortly before Barbara Vanaman wife and mother of 2 boys was gunned down in her kitchen the following was found on her computer: ‘I don’t know all the future holds for me. And I’m scared of what will happen in the future’…”

Now, there is a possibility because of a recent state court of appeals ruling that
Vanaman who received a sentence of 9 years could have his time reduced. A
state appeals panel ruled last week that Superior Court Judge Martin Herman erred in finding that
Robert Vanaman’s action “violated the public trust” because he was a sergeant with the Millville
Police Department when he killed his wife during an argument in 2006.

The three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Superior Court said it could find no ruling “in which the defendant’s mere status as a police officer, who committed a violent offense against his spouse,” should be considered as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. The appeals court found the only “factual predicate” for considering that was the “simple fact of the defendant’s employment.”

Now, the family of Barbara Vanaman will wait for the justice system to re-sentence Vanaman. For women like Barbara, silenced as they were preparing to leave the marriage, murder was the former police Sergeant's solution to his wife wanting to move out and on with her life. In my opinion, Barbara Vanaman was unable to defend herself against a trained and commissioned law enforcement officer. When a court law rewards a violent offender, such as Vanaman, for the victim silenced and the surviving family members, it is no different then firing the gun, again.

Where are Barbara Vanaman's rights? This is a clear case of a silenced victim continuing to jump through hoops, from the grave!

Related Stories:
NJ] Barbara Vanaman shot & killed by police officer husband
[NJ] Millville Police Sgt. Vanaman charged with murdering wife, Barbara
[NJ] Police Sgt. Vanaman ‘s NEW excuse for killing wife Barbara? [Oct. 2007] – The I-shot-my-wife-in-self-defense was forseeably crumbling for Millville Police Officer Robert Vanaman as the prosecutor insisted that he can show that Vanaman’s wounds (surface scratches) were self inflicted. Now it looks like his attorney is exploring blaming the gun for accidentally firing instead – the same gun that Vanaman said he deliberately shot at Barbara, – TWICE – to protect himself…
[NJ] Stopping wife-killer Officer Vanaman from claiming self-defense
[NJ] Slow-mo shuffle towards the murder-of- Barbara trial
[NJ] Wife-murder trial of (free as a bird) Sgt Vanaman could get delayed
[NJ] Millville Police Sgt. Vanaman denied venue change for his murder-of- Barbara trial
[NJ] Any excuse to think of slain Sgt’s wife Barbara Vanaman is a good one
[NJ] Wife-killer Sgt. Vanaman pre-trial hearing postponed
[NJ] Sgt. Vanaman’s murder-of-Barbara trial date tentatively set for March
[NJ] Almost 3 years after killing his wife Barbara, Sgt. Vanaman presents the “nut & slut” defense

Please take a moment if you are involved or know someone in a violent relationship the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (shown below) by Susan Murphy Milano from the Book "Time's Up" from Courage Network on Vimeo.

Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. For more information visit

Susan is the author of "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships," available for purchase at the Institute, and wherever books are sold. Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, "Time's Up!" on Here Women Talk is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr Laurie Roth. Susan is a survivor- the daughter of a police officer family intimate partner homicide by her father who murdered her mother before committing suicide.

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