Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mother held in stabbing death tells of life with a violent man

Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.




Mother held in stabbing death tells of life with a violent man

01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By Amanda Milkovits
Journal Staff Writer

Shanna Rufo breaks down during her appearance in District Court on a murder charge for the stabbing death of George Holland. With her is public defender Robert Marro.

The Providence Journal / Mary Murphy

PROVIDENCE –– Thirteen years ago, Shanna A. Rufo told a judge that she was afraid her teenage boyfriend, George Holland, was going to kill her and hurt their infant son.

Instead, early Saturday afternoon, the police say that Rufo took Holland’s life, stabbing him to death with a kitchen knife during a violent argument at an apartment where he lived with a girlfriend.

Rufo cried Monday morning as District Court Judge J. Terrence Houlihan Jr. read aloud the charge that accused her of killing 29-year-old Holland. The judge ordered Rufo, 39, held without bail until a hearing on Nov. 9.

Their relationship had been violent from the beginning.

Holland was just 15 years old when Rufo took out a restraining order against him in July 1996, just two weeks after the birth of their son. “He threatened my life and assaulted me …” Rufo wrote in her complaint. “He stated that he was gonna shoot me after an argument [sic] we had. … I fear his temper is beyond control and he could hurt my son.”

Holland and Rufo broke up, although Rufo’s relatives said the couple later became friends. Rufo later had three daughters from a new relationship.

Holland went on to have seven other children with several different women –– whom he was also accused of abusing. “George used to beat my sister. He beat all of his kids’ mothers,” said Gina Bly, Rufo’s sister, said after the court arraignment.

On several occasions, Holland was charged with domestic assault, although each of the charges was eventually dismissed. He was also the subject of no-contact orders involving other women, including Vanessa Tapia, his latest girlfriend, whom he was living with at 15 Ridgeway St., in the city’s Manton neighborhood. The police had been called about domestic violence there several times over the last few years, but each time the cases were dismissed, said Providence police Capt. James Desmarais.

Rufo stayed involved in the lives of Holland’s children from other women, even having them over to her home at 576 Broad St., Bly said. “She took care of his kids,” Bly said.

Late Saturday morning, Tapia called Rufo and asked for her help, said Angel Leary, one of Rufo’s cousins. Leary and Rufo had been spending time together Friday and Saturday morning –– Rufo was getting tattoos of the names of her four children –– when Tapia called. Tapia told Rufo that Holland hadn’t come home all night, but three of his children with another woman were left behind at the house. Leary said she told Rufo not to get involved, but Rufo went over to the house on Ridgeway Street anyway.

Bly said Rufo told her later that Holland returned and became enraged. Holland attacked his girlfriend, and then went after Rufo, Bly said.

“My sister stood up in between them, and he threw my sister into the computer and kicked her in the back,” Bly said. “She has scoliosis and a bad knee. He’s 6 foot 2 and 275 pounds. George is not a little man.”

The prosecutor said in court that Rufo grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Holland twice. Bly said her sister told her that she doesn’t remember what happened. “She was going to call 911. She just wanted to go home,” Bly said.

Holland was dying when rescuers arrived at the house just before 1 p.m. Neither Rufo nor Tapia needed medical treatment. Until Tapia was told that Holland had died, and she collapsed, Desmarais said.

With Holland dead and Rufo being held for his murder at the Adult Correctional Institutions, their 13-year-old son was taken into custody by the state Department of Children Youth and Families, said Bly.

Rufo tried to talk to her son before she was taken away, Bly said. She told him she’d never do anything to hurt his father.


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