Pinellas County Sergeant knows how domestic violence can scar

Advocate for tougher laws to protect those exposed

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - As we continue to take action against domestic violence, we introduce you to a sergeant with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department who knows first-hand what domestic violence can do to a family.

Sitting outside the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department, Sergeant Phoebe Schlager recalls the horrifying day she lost her mother, her niece and great niece to domestic violence. "That morning my niece's soon-to-be ex-husband -- they were about to get a divorce -- he had broken into the house, early morning 3:30 - 4:00 ish and he killed everyone who was there."

The tragedy unfolded in Hampton, Virginia earlier this year.  Phoebe says after he murdered her niece, his own daughter and phoebe's mother - he set the house on fire.  "I couldn't imagine a human being doing that to another human being, especially to your own child."

Police, she says, shot and killed the man when he fired on them as they arrived. Losing so many loved ones in one day haunts her.  "This is just my opinion but I believe he's a sociopath. He was able to hide that for a long time but I believe he was pure evil."

Ironically, Phoebe works in the Pinellas County jail and sees people brought in charged with domestic violence all the time.

"From what I've noticed," said Phoebe, "it could be anybody.  It could be the doctor, or lawyer, the bum or the athlete.  It could be anyone."

With her niece's purse on her lap, and a permanent mark in her memory on her skin, the sergeant is determined to save other lives by lobbying for new laws.

"If we can put an ankle monitor on a drug dealer, why can't we put one on someone who has an injunction against them for domestic violence?  If he had an ankle monitor, she would have known he was in the vicinity or at the house, that he had moved. Carla would have been alerted to that fact and maybe police would have gotten there sooner.

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