I t is impossible to know what goes through a man's mind when he's made the decision, consciously or subconsciously, to harm or kill the mother of an unborn child.
Ahhh, it doesn't happen often, you say, and thank goodness for that.
Except that it apparently happens more than you might think. It certainly happens more than I would have thought.
It occurred right here in York County a week ago, when a 28-year-old man, Wilkins Gerard Marte-Escano, allegedly stabbed to death his 24-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Olga Vascones-Garcia, in the lobby of the Super 8 motel in Manchester Township.
As Vascones-Garcia lay dying, she tried to comfort her 5-year-old daughter, who witnessed her father fatally stab her mother.
Vascones-Garcia suffered two stab wounds to the chest, according to a police report. After she was stabbed the first time, she and her young daughter ran to the lobby of the motel and attempted to escape when Marte-Escano caught up with her and stabbed her a second time.
Vascones and her unborn child were pronounced dead at the York Hospital, after hospital staff delivered the pre-term (19 weeks) infant boy, but were unable to save him.
In truth, it does not matter what was going through Marte-Escano's mind as he was chasing down the woman with a knife in his hand. Whatever the reason, nothing can justify a murder, especially the murder of a pregnant mother.
York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said Marte-Escano confessed to the stabbing. He has been charged with the double homicide and remains in York County Prison without bail.
Such murders do not happen frequently in York County, thank goodness. But it has occurred. And it's certain that domestic violence on pregnant women, short of death, occurs, as well.
One high-profile national case was the murder of Laci Peterson by her husband nine years ago in California. Another is that of Sharon Tate, one of the victims of the Charles Manson family more than 40 years ago. There are many others, of course, too many to list here.
But most murders of pregnant women don't make the national news report. They are local news, here for a day or two or three, then again during the murder trial a year later, but then lost, except to the next of kin and loved ones, for all time.
It's called Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) during pregnancy, and it happens often enough that there have been a number of studies done nationwide, including an ongoing study being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The truth of the matter, according to CDC statistics, is Intimate Partner Violence affects 324,000 pregnant women each year in this country.
And most interesting is IPV occurs in every age group, every ethnic/racial group, every religion, at all socioeconomic levels and all educational backgrounds.
About three-quarters of all Intimate Partner Violence, according to the CDC, is perpetrated by current or former husbands, a cohabiting partner or a close acquaintance.
The third leading cause of death to pregnant women is homicide. One study indicated that 20 percent of women who die during pregnancy are victims of murder.
And the reasons for it run the gamut.
One thing we do know, however, is proper screening and intervention in high-risk cases can make a difference.
IPV will never be eliminated because it's subject to human nature -- the good and the bad. But we can minimize it.
And that should be our goal.
Olga Vascones-Garcia and her premature son are dead today because of domestic violence.
A 5-year-old child has lost her mother and her brother forever.
Perhaps that could not have been prevented by even the most persistent scrutiny by family, friends or medical personnel.
Or maybe it could have.
If only someone had recognized the danger this pregnant woman was in.
And had done something about it.
If only ...
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dis patch columnist, run Mondays, Wednes days and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.