MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Domestic violence is a growing problem both nationally and here in North Alabama, and its impacts reach far beyond those directly involved.
According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. An incident this weekend in Madison County left one woman behind bars, and one man in the hospital with his children searching for answers.
October 1st is a day Hailey White, Holly Smith, and Jason Hayden say they will never forget. That day, the Madison County Sheriff’s office says Donna Navarre shot their father Larry Hesler at the couple’s home on Clarice Circle.
Hesler’s children say their father and Navarre had been dating for about a year and had no known relationship issues, but early that Sunday morning they say Navarre shot Hesler multiple times. His daughter Hailey says the situation sparked a state of disbelief and it was an experience that she doesn’t wish on any family.
“You go into a state of shock. You don’t believe it, this is not something that we ever seen coming at all, very traumatic for us and our whole family,” White said.
They say he’s still recovering in the hospital and improving, but his son Jason says he knows this experience will stick with his father for a lifetime.
“That scar is not going away anytime soon,” Hayden told News 19. “Those bullet wounds might heal and they might heal almost 99% of what he was hopefully, but the mental – that’s always going to be something challenging with that kind of level of event.”
Hesler’s daughter Holly says this incident proves more attention needs to be given to domestic violence prevention and she had a message for Navarre.
“It’s quite shocking that somebody like my father is a victim of domestic violence. It shows that it can happen to anybody and there needs to be awareness brought forward for men, and for women, for children and for seniors, for anyone that could be a possible victim,” Smith said.
“I forgive her for her actions. I forgive her for the peace in my heart. I hope that she finds peace in her heart and gets the help that she needs,” Smith added.
Donna Navarre was arrested that Sunday morning on domestic violence and attempted murder charges. She is being held in the Madison County Jail and has a court appearance scheduled for October 18th.
Court records show on multiple occasions Navarre filed protection from abuse orders against Hesler last year, citing verbal and physical abuse. One was granted in October of last year, but Navarre asked to drop it less than a month later.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, they can call the crisis services of North Alabama’s 24-hour helpline at 256-716-1000.