A Phoenix woman and her 11-month-old daughter were fatally shot by the deceased mother’s estranged husband in a domestic violence incident at their home on October 4, authorities said. According to KPNX, the suspect, identified as Louis Mouton III, shot his wife Lanae Mouton, 32, and little Ava while Lanae was hiding in a closet with the minor.
Following the incident, Lanae’s family have been spreading awareness on domestic violence and the need for victims to leave such harmful relationships before it’s too late. In an interview with the news outlet, Lanae’s twin sister, Lauren Riley, said Mouton had always manipulated Lanae, adding that it started when the two began dating as teenagers.
“He was always manipulative. She just never saw it,” Riley said. The couple had been estranged since April and Lanae was trying to get a divorce prior to her killing.
The fatal incident occurred after Mouton went to their apartment to talk about their relationship. And after Lanae went indoors following their discussion, police said Mouton started kicking the door before shooting his wife and daughter, ABC15 reported.
The two victims succumbed to their injuries at a hospital. Lanae’s family told KPNX they advised her to end her marriage with Mouton, but it took years for the deceased mother-of-four to ultimately leave the abusive relationship.
“There was literally nothing anybody could do,” Riley said. “I could’ve gone to the police and told them stuff, but they’re going to go back to her to back it up and she’s going to protect him.”
Lanae’s family said they were aware Mouton was abusing her, and they even offered Lanae an opportunity to move in with them. She, however, did not accept the offer. “We all think tomorrow we’ll do this, tomorrow I’ll do that, and at some point you won’t have tomorrow. The biggest challenge for so many relationships is that person making that final decision and taking action on it,” Lanae’s brother, Robert Wheatley Jr., said.
The mourning family is advising people caught up in abusive relationships to leave before things get worse. “If you’re scared he’s going to kill you, if you stay there he is,” Lanae’s father, Robert Wheatley Sr., said.