Nothing on Tamworth Lane would indicate a Franklin County couple died on the night of Oct. 5 in a suspected murder-suicide.

The house at 1051 Tamworth Lane had two cars parked in the driveway. There was a Halloween decoration hanging from a tree in the front yard.

The victims, Carmelita Wright and Lorenzo A. Simpson, of 1051 Tamworth Lane, were found dead in their home shortly after 10 p.m. Oct. 5, Franklin County Sheriff Chris Quire said Wright received multiple gunshot wounds, while Simpson had a single gunshot wound. Deputies also recovered a .40 caliber handgun from the scene.

Several of the immediate neighbors said they did not know the couple well, but would see them walking around the neighborhood with their daughter from time to time. 

Law enforcement, though, had a different experience. 

Past violence

Sheriff’s deputies were twice called to a residence on Tamworth Lane in July for domestic disturbances.

According to documents from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to two reports of domestic disturbances at the residence in July. In both incidents, no arrests were made and Quire said there was nothing to justify an arrest for assault.

“There’s actually no assault,” he said. “It ties our hands to make an arrest.”

In an email Monday, FCSO Capt. Shane Weber said deputies did not see any visible marks on the victim in either incident.

“If there were any marks visible to the deputies and the (perpetrator) had been on the scene, they could have arrested him for domestic violence,” Weber wrote. “Even though he fled the scene, if they located him during their shift, they could have arrested him. According to both reports, deputies did not visibly see any injuries or marks.”

Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks said there were charges filed in 2017 by Simpson against Wright which involved a slap. There was video evidence of the incident, he said.

“In 2017, the police charged her with an assault incident but he did not want to pursue it,” Sparks said. “I declined (to dismiss the charge) and continued it for six months. I think it was dismissed in early 2018.”

Sparks said he found no records that either Wright or Simpson pursued an emergency protection or domestic violence order, and no charges had been filed since 2017. 

State law

Kentucky state statute defines fourth-degree assault, a Class A misdemeanor, as when a person “intentionally or wantonly causes physical injury to another person; or with recklessness he causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.”

Second-degree assault requires serious physical injury, according to statute.

It also defines domestic violence and abuse as “physical injury, serious physical injury, stalking, sexual abuse, strangulation, assault or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, strangulation or assault between family members or members of an unmarried couple.”

It further defines member of an unmarried couple as either party to the relationship which has a child in common, among other relationships.

In Kentucky, law enforcement officers can only charge someone with a misdemeanor if it happens in their presence, Sparks said.

Domestic violence is an exception, and a mandatory arrest.

“If they come across a victim they believe was a victim of domestic violence, then it is mandatory to arrest,” he said. “They have very little discretion in those.”

Sparks said he was not familiar with the July incidents to say anyone should have been arrested by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

“I wouldn’t second-guess them,” Sparks said. “I never got the charges.”

Prior incidents

In the July 7 incident report, Wright said Simpson had pushed her and their child. The deputy noted neither Simpson nor Wright had any visible injuries. 

On July 27, deputies said Wright was complaining of pain on her head from being hit with a cellphone. 

Following the second case, Wright told deputies she was going home to Shelby County, and she was advised on how to obtain an emergency protection order and to contact the county attorney to file charges. According to court officials in Shelby County, she never did.

At 10:55 p.m. July 7, Wright called police and said she and a child had been pushed by Simpson. Neither was injured, and they agreed to leave the residence and spend the night elsewhere.

Deputies said Simpson smelled of alcohol and appeared to be intoxicated at the time.

The report also indicated there were two children in the home at the time.

Quire said Tuesday that Wright and Simpson are not married but have a 7-year-old daughter together. He also said he believed Simpson had other children.

On July 27, deputies responded to another report of a domestic altercation at 12:14 a.m.

When deputies reached the scene, Simpson had already left.

Wright told deputies Simpson had been drinking heavily and an altercation broke out between the two. She said Simpson hit her on the head several times with a cellphone. She said Simpson took the phones, but she found an old phone and called 911 for help.

Wright declined medical attention, according to the sheriff’s office.

She said Simpson left when he realized she had called the police. The couple’s child was also in the home at the time. 

According to the report, arguments between the two were not new.

“Wright said that she was scared saying that his drinking and abusive behavior is a common occurrence and was going to pack her and her daughter’s things and leave the residence for the evening,” the report states.

Wright refused medical treatment at the scene and told deputies she was going to Shelby County. Deputies advised Wright of the process to obtain an emergency protection order, and to contact the county attorney if she wanted to file charges.

Officials in the Shelby Circuit Clerk’s Office said there were no cases of any kind in Wright’s name.

Getting help

Kentucky law allows for domestic violence orders and emergency protection orders.

According to the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kentucky offers both domestic violence and interpersonal protective orders. The difference is DVOs are issued for situations involving family members and members of an unmarried couple, while interpersonal orders are for those who are or were dating, people who have been stalked or people who ere sexually assaulted.

The coalition suggests going to the local clerk’s office during business hours to begin the process. After hours, victims are instructed to contact law enforcement. The victim is required to show the court you were injured, assaulted, stalked or was placed in reasonable fear of those happening. 

After reviewing the necessary forms, a judge will decide whether to grant a temporary order and whether to set a court hearing to issue a longer-term order. 

Arrangements

Quire said the couple’s child was not injured Oct. 5, and was placed with other family members.

“It’s a horrible situation,” Quire said, "and the little girl is the one that will pay the ultimate price.”

An obituary posted online for Wright said she is the daughter of Clara Wright and the late William Wright, and one of four siblings. The funeral arrangements are listed as incomplete at Keith P. Clark and Sons Funeral Home in Winchester.

There was not an obituary online for Simpson.

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