The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 21, 2012

‘Mission for Monica’ group seeks to curb domestic violence

JOPLIN, Mo. — The friends of a woman who authorities say was killed by her estranged husband say they are on a mission to stop domestic violence.

Rebecca Joice-Moore and Jason Calvin, both friends and former co-workers of Monica Webb, have created a group called “On a Mission for Monica,” which seeks tougher laws following the shooting death of the 36-year-old Joplin woman last month.

“The main thing is I didn’t want Monica’s death to be in vain,” Calvin said. “I didn’t want Monica to become a statistic. We just want to draw awareness to the fact that this does not need to happen in the future, that something needs to change.”

Monica Webb had reported that her estranged husband, Rondias Webb, 35, violated a protection order Nov. 4 when he approached her in a bar and informed her that he knew where she had moved to get away from him. That report was made less than two weeks before he allegedly shot and killed her inside her new home on Nov. 17. The alleged violation led to the mailing of a summons and not the issuance of an arrest warrant. After shooting his wife, Rondias Webb shot himself but survived, according to court records.

Those representing the legal system have said that speculating about whether an arrest would have prevented the tragedy is a reach. But Joice-Moore has said she doesn’t think the woman’s case was taken seriously enough before her death.

“Our goal is to make an order of protection ... a system of checks and balances,” she said. “We are ‘on a mission for Monica’ to stop domestic violence, and one step forward on our journey is to provide a more accountable system of protection.”

Joice-Moore said the main focus of the group is to petition authorities in Jasper and Newton counties to establish a task force that would deal proactively with cases of domestic violence. She calls the petition, which she expects to begin circulating in January, Monica’s Law.

“We are pushing for Monica’s Law to institute a domestic violence task force to protect the victims of domestic abuse and provide a liaison for the petitioners of orders of protection,” she said.

Joice-Moore said the group advocates that the task force would:

• Take all calls or reports from petitioners of protection orders.

• Give advice to petitioners on how to diffuse possible future issues.

• Assign to petitioners a social worker who can provide information about safety and self-protection.

• Require that respondents of protection orders check in daily with the task force.

• Require a mental health exam, drug/alcohol test, and an anger management course for respondents.

• Treat violators of a protection order as an immediate threat, and issue and serve a warrant for arrest in a timely manner.

• Hold violators of a protection order for 12 hours.

• Create a felony offense for respondents who make physical contact with the petitioner.

When asked who is to receive the petition — legislators, the police department or the court system, for example — Calvin said the group will take the process one step at a time.

“We don’t have anything set in stone, but we will take (the petition) to whatever avenue we have to,” he said. “Our hope is that they will take us seriously enough to at least attempt to utilize some of the things (in the petition). I don’t think any of the things we put in there are unreasonable.”

Joice-Moore said she and others in the group have also written letters to Missouri legislators, sharing Monica Webb’s story and asking for tougher laws against domestic violence, and have received responses from the offices of Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and U.S. Rep. Billy Long.

Joice-Moore had worked with Monica Webb at two different nursing homes in past years. She previously said that Webb, a certified nursing assistant, was “full of life” and was loved by the patients she tended.

Calvin said he, too, had worked with Monica Webb for years at a nursing home.

“I just want people to know that even if they didn’t know Monica, this is for people who have been affected by domestic violence in any way, shape or form,” he said. “We want it to be Monica’s Law because that’s what prompted us to get this started, but anyone who has been affected by domestic violence is invited to join the crusade.”

For more information

The “On a Mission for Monica” group can be contacted through its Facebook page.

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