GREENSBORO — Cynthia Foust fled the house with only the clothes on her back. She went into hiding and couldn’t tell her family where she was.
But she was lucky, said Foust of Greensboro. She got out before her husband killed her, Foust told about 200 people Wednesday night during a vigil for Laurrissa Armstrong, who police describe as the ninth victim of domestic violence in Greensboro this year. Armstrong died Saturday.
Last year, three people were killed in Greensboro through domestic violence, records show.
Like Armstrong, a judge denied a restraining order against her husband, Foust said. She said he threatened her and slashed her tires. He went to her job and spray-painted obscenities on the walls, Foust said. But then Foust found the Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation, which helped her go into hiding.
Foust, who now volunteers for the foundation, passed out information at Wednesday’s vigil for the slain Guilford County Schools teacher.
Armstrong’s three sons were among those gathered on the steps outside of the Guilford County Courthouse to remember Armstrong.
“We need to honor this woman, who went to the system and said, ‘I need help,’” said Portia Shipman, the Greensboro-based foundation’s director. “She was denied twice, by two judges.
“The system fails victims.”
Laurrissa Armstrong’s brother killed himself after hearing the news of his sister’s death, Shipman said Wednesday.
Armstrong, 62, died nine days after being shot outside her apartment at 1404 Adams Farm Parkway. Police believe her husband, Bruce Ray Armstrong, 61, shot her. He was found unresponsive a few miles away. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. An autopsy report is pending.
Shipman said a deputy showing up on Bruce Armstrong’s door with a restraining order might have given him pause.
“It doesn’t protect the woman,” Shipman said. “It doesn’t give them a bulletproof vest.”
But at least women can get help, she said.
Greensboro attorney Carolyn Woodruff said the tragedy has prompted her to write a bill for the state legislature that would allow the court to implement a restraining order using a lesser burden of proof than is now necessary. For example, she said, Wake County has Rule 65, which allows a judge to issue a temporary restraining order against somebody without giving them or their attorney prior notice.
The legislation would also change laws that allow somebody to apply for a handgun permit while they are under investigation for a restraining order. The problem in the Armstrongs’ case, Woodruff said, was that judges who decided on the restraining order didn’t know Bruce Armstrong was applying for a handgun permit.
“The system is broken,” Woodruff said. “(Laurrissa Armstrong) would want us to learn from what has happened to her.”
Foust said she got out just in time. About six months after she fled her home, police arrested her husband in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend.
Police charged Larry Cook with murder in the Aug. 16, 2012, death of Brittany Patrice Turner, 24, and the stabbings of her sister and mother, records show. He is being held without bond in the Guilford County jail.