Time has done little to heal the emotional wounds created by the murder of Lisa Bianco 25 years ago today. But time has arguably done a lot to change the circumstances surrounding domestic violence victims.
“Her name signifies change and sacrifice and I get letters you know, emails all the time from women who say because of Lisa, you know, I’m alive,” said Lisa’s mother Millie Bianco by phone from her home in Florida.
On March 4, 1989 Lisa Bianco was beaten to death with the butt of a shotgun in front of her two young daughters by her ex-husband.
To make things worse, the ex-husband had been released from prison on an eight hour furlough and Bianco was never notified of that fact.
“Had there been a system like there is now with automatic notification via phone, via computer, whatever, so the victim knows at all times where that perpetrator is and what’s happening, had that been in place, Lisa would most likely be alive and well today,” said Millie Bianco.
In fact, Millie Bianco has been called the mother of victim notification in recognition of her efforts to get the law changed. “Everything has been geared towards criminals and very little for victims, so and I say, follow the money,” said Bianco.
In 2009, Millie Bianco released a book about her daughter’s life and tragic death. She says she waited 20 years to become an author because she had to be politically correct while she was lobbying legislators for change.
Bianco says the book is politically incorrect, and that the names are changed to protect the guilty.
“She (Lisa) has an inscription on her plaque at the cemetery that says her flame burns eternal, and that is the message and we want to keep that flame burning,” said Millie Bianco.
The death of Lisa Bianco was a mark point in the history of our community,” said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak. “The legislature changed laws in Indiana, I think we maybe became the first state in the country to enact a domestic violence battery crime that allowed a police officer to arrest for a misdemeanor not committed in his presence, making domestic violence battery that single exception.”
Dvorak wore the purple ribbon that signifies Lisa’s favorite color and the hue now associated with the fight against domestic violence nationwide.
Today, officials continue to launch new initiatives to address domestic violence fatalities. The latest is a questionnaire known as a domestic violence danger assessment.
“Has the physical violence increased in severity over the last year? Does he own a gun? Is he unemployed? Has he threatened to kill you?” asked St. Joseph County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Sanders. “The more yesses that are there, the higher the risk is that this is a dangerous relationship.”
As for Lisa Bianco’s ex-husband, Alan Matheney was sentenced to death and that sentence was carried out in September of 2005.