It’s never easy to see a someone going through domestic abuse. Most of us, unfortunately, turn the other way and tell ourselves that it’s none of our business. We worry that if we say something, it could get worse. We whisper and murmur behind the back of the victim, hoping that one day they’ll develop the courage to stand up and leave.
Justine Swartz never got to that point. She became another victim, amongst many more, of domestic abuse.
On November 3rd, 2006 at about 1:30 am, Eric Abshire, 36, reported to Virginia Police that his wife, Justine, had called him and told him that her car had broken down on Taylorsville Road in rural Orange County, Virginia. He hopped on his motorcycle and sped off to retrieve her.
Upon arrival, Abshire states that he discovered his wife lying on the road. She was unresponsive. Abshire then went to a nearby house where he called 911 and told the dispatcher that his wife had been the victim of a hit and run.
When police arrived, however, they found a very different scene. Investigators were surprised to find that there was no debris on the road from a damaged car, nor were there skid marks. In most, if not all, vehicular homicide cases, there is at least some debris and most certainly skid marks as a result of the impact.
Furthermore, when investigators decided to check out Justine’s car, it started up right away. If Justine’s car had been broken down, that would have been apparent.
Investigators were already suspicious of Abshire’s story when it came time to examine Justine’s body. What the medical examiner concluded was that her injuries were not consistent with that of a hit and run. In fact, she had over one hundred injuries all over her body including defensive wounds.
It appeared that Justine had been very badly beaten. Not hit by a car.
Suspicion of Abshire went further when it was revealed that he had not only been having an affair with another woman but that he had taken out a life insurance policy worth $1.5 million.
Investigators developed a theory that Abshire staged a hit and run in order to cover up for the murder of his wife so that he could receive an insurance payout and live the rest of his life with a new woman.
Despite the evidence being circumstantial, Abshire was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife Justine Swartz. He pleaded not guilty.
It didn’t take the jury, made up of eight women and four men, to determine a verdict: guilty of first-degree murder.
Abshire appealed the decision due to there being a lack of direct evidence, but the appeal was denied.
Eric Abshire was sentenced to life in prison. He maintains his innocence to this day.
Justine was an unfortunate victim of domestic abuse, stolen from her family by a cruel and heartless man. While Abshire has been sentenced and punished for his crime, Justine’s family will always be at a loss.
In the end, there was justice for Justine.