Hope Walk family

People participate in the annual Hope Walk Against Domestic Violence on the Ravenel Bridge. Since the Violence Policy Center began publishing "When Men Murder Women" in 1996, South Carolina has never left the top-10 grouping for highest rate of slayings. File/Staff

Four years since South Carolina lawmakers vowed to slice the rate of domestic homicides, slayings of women at the hands of men are creeping back up — and most of the victims knew their killers.

The 2017 FBI data is the most recent compilation available from the Violence Policy Center, which published its annual analysis earlier this month. Since the center began publishing "When Men Murder Women" in 1996, South Carolina has never left the top-10 grouping for highest rate of slayings.

The 52 victims in the Palmetto State brought the rate up to 2.01 in every 100,000 women killed, tied with Tennessee for fifth place. The national rate was 1.29 in every 100,000.

It's the first time the rate has exceeded 2 in every 100,000 since 2015, when The Post and Courier's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Till Death Do Us Part" series prompted lawmakers to address domestic violence rates with legislation that enacted harsher punishment for domestic violence offenders, including a partial gun ban.

"Although this isn't really a report about domestic violence, what you realize is that over 90 percent of the women were killed by an intimate partner," said Sara Barber, executive director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. "We're mirroring the national trend of lethality in domestic violence, for the most part."

In fact, every one of the 47 cases in which S.C. authorities could identify the circumstances of the slaying, the killer and victim knew each other. Of six women slain in the Charleston area that year, each of them was shot by a man she knew, authorities said.

Guns were used in 76 percent of slayings in the state, while the national average remained at 57 percent.

Having a firearm in the home makes a woman three times more likely to die by homicide, Barber said. 

The 2017 numbers also reflect how women of color with less access to resources are at greater risk — 21 of the S.C. victims were black, and two were Asian or Pacific Islander.

"It continues the pattern that we've been seeing," Barber said. "We keep pulling people out of the river but we're neglecting to look at who's throwing them in."

Here are six tri-county women fatally shot in 2017 by men they knew:

Ivo Colucci awaits trial for shooting his wife to death in front of his 12-year-old granddaughter as their marriage crumbled in April 2017. Surveillance cameras captured Colucci, 83, gunning 74-year-old Doris Colucci down at his jewelry store in North Charleston.

The couple had funded defense attorneys for their son, who was accused of slaying his own wife in 2015.

Canei Latasha Harrison was 33 when she died of a gunshot wound to the head in June 2017. North Charleston police accused her boyfriend, 31-year-old Lavar Terelle Walker, of pulling a handgun from his waistband to kill her during an argument.

The third North Charleston victim, 47-year-old Lisa Sargent, was arguing with roommate Tommy Glenn Jones when he gunned her down in June 2017 then initiated a standoff with officers, police said. Jones, 57, admitted to shooting Sargent and said her death was "no problem to me," according to court records.

In Mount Pleasant, 75-year-old Garden Magwood's husband John Megget Magwood told police she'd shot herself in March 2017, but when detectives arrived at their home, they found signs she'd been attacked from several feet away. Detectives determined that her husband then placed the gun in her hand.

In May 2017, Berkeley County officials said Crystal Wiley, 37, was found shot in her Summerville driveway after neighbors overheard yelling from the home she shared with her husband. Troy Wiley admitted to killing his wife, deputies said.

Berkeley deputies said several witnesses saw 51-year-old Robert Byrne shoot his wife, 40-year-old Robin Byrne, before turning the gun on himself in front of a home on Arabian Drive near Summerville in November 2017. 

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