I just finished reading this story. Angela Leet was making a purchase at a gas station and passed a note to the clerk when she signed the receipt that said "If I need help, be a witness." Eight minutes later she was brutally murdered by her husband, who shot her in the driveway of their home.
Now, the clerk said that sie could tell that something was wrong, and asked her if she need help. Leet seems to have indicated that something was wrong, and showed the clerk her black eye, but signed the receipt and got back in the car and drove away.
I'm not sure what the clerk did after that.
I hope that the clerk called the police, but the article doesn't mention that. If I were still working retail and a customer did those things, I think I'd do my best to try to stall them in the store, while I called 911. She was clearly in some kind of trouble, and, from the clerk's description, afraid of getting back in the car. At the very least, I'd think you'd call 911 and say "Hey, this woman was just in here, and I think she's being assaulted or kidnapped, here's the note she left on the receipt."
I assume that most of us have never been in a situation quite like this, but what about you? Have you ever stepped in to prevent some kind of spousal/partner abuse? Have you ever called the police when you suspected something violent was happening? Have you ever failed to intervene and wished you had?
There was a situation in a building I lived in where a woman and her boyfriend were living together, and had a really messy breakup. The entire time I lived there, they fought constantly. Most of the time it was just annoying and loud and I wished they'd shut up or break up, but after they broke up, he came into the building and was pounding on her door and they were fighting. They eventually got back together, and, as far as I know, he never assaulted her, but, to this day, I feel guilty for not calling the police.
He didn't belong there, and he was pounding on her door and making a scene. I should have called, and I didn't. I can only imagine how I'd feel if he had done something. At the time, I was terrified that if I did something, it would come back to me, and he'd retaliate. I was afraid to go into the hallway and make sure everything was okay, because he was there, and he was bigger than me. I was afraid to call the police because... well... I'm not exactly sure why. I guess part of it was that I was afraid I'd call the police and he'd already be gone, or he'd know it was me that called or they'd say that nothing was wrong, and the police would be upset with me.
All of which I realize are ridiculous.
Anyway, if I had it to do over again, I'd call the police. Whatever weird hangups I'm having are nothing compared to the actual threat to someone, and the risk that that person could be physically harmed. My weird emotional/mental hangups about calling the police aren't worth risking another person's safety over. I'm glad nothing happened in that case, but my lack of action and the potential for much worse outcomes still bothers me and disappoints me to this day. And stories like this just reinforce to me how important taking action is.