Jacqueline Avant. Courtesy Kenneth Gough.
(CNN) – New details are emerging about the woman killed by her ex-boyfriend as he made a suicide attempt outside a Virginia church on Sunday.
Jacqueline Avant, 51, had been in a marriage of nearly 50 years to a man who died in 2012.
On Thursday, police released new information about what happened to her in the days before her death, including photos of her body taken after her murder.
Avant was shot multiple times in a parking lot outside a Richmond, Virginia, church on Sunday afternoon, shortly after the man she accused of abuse had shot himself in the foot.
Her ex-husband was outside of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church when the suspect shot himself with the gun police say he had taken from his car. The suspect suffered only minor injuries, according to police.
Her ex-husband was attempting to retrieve their guns from his car when the shooting took place, according to a police statement. He was held back at the same time the suspect shot himself.
Police said in a statement that during an interview with the suspect “it was discovered that he committed murder while his ex-wife was being questioned.”
Suspect had gun in car
The man killed by the suspect had been in a relationship with Avant for about a year, police said. Both were married to men who had died in 2012, according to local news reports.
In March 2016, Avant called Richmond police and accused her ex-husband of repeated abuse, including threatening to kill her, a police report said. She told police he made her disappear, doused her with gasoline and had kidnapped her, according to CNN affiliate WRIC.
In June 2016, the Richmond Police Department investigated allegations that she took two of her husband’s handguns without permission, and was suspected of criminal trespassing and unlawfully disposing of a firearm.
In February 2017, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office notified the courts that she had filed a restraining order against her ex-husband alleging sexual assault and stalking, and obtained a protective order against him, a Richmond Police Department public information officer said.
The restraining order was dismissed in April 2018.
By 2017, Avant had filed for divorce, according to court records.
Before her death, she told a friend that the man arrested after her murder had killed her and buried her in the woods.
“She asked me if I would hide her body and I said, ‘No. That would be a sin,'” Avant told a reporter for NBC affiliate WTVR.
Avant’s death has renewed the debate over domestic violence laws and whether the law favors the accused. A network of social media users suggested Thursday that Cpl. Arnaldo Abreu, the suspect, should have been arrested — instead of being released on a $5,000 bond.
Abreu shot himself after Avant’s murder
Abreu’s lawyer, Robert Bernstein, argued that Avant’s complaints were not on the record and so Abreu was not punished.
But the charges were officially brought against him and the judge who first considered the case declared him “habitual aggravated assault,” against whom the mandatory sentence would have been 15 years in prison, though Abreu never received that sentence, according to court records.
Abreu was later released on bond, after his attorney argued that the fact he had a gun in his car, and that police found it in his truck, had made him a flight risk.
The probation office certified that Abreu had “major depressive disorder,” and “psychotic illness,” and not a mental illness, meaning the charge of felony grand larceny would have been dropped. But the Virginia Parole Board rescinded the certification in April 2018, declaring him a flight risk and citing “the credible and persuasive evidence of the priors.”