LAWTON, Okla. – A Comanche County woman lies in a Lawton hospital tonight with life-threatening injuries after a possible case of domestic abuse.
Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley says the woman was brought to the hospital Monday afternoon, suffering from a ruptured spleen, broken nose, broken ribs and bruised arms.
The woman first told the medical staff she had been injured in a 4-wheeler accident, but was overheard by a hospital employee telling a family member that her boyfriend beat her. They called 911. And Stradley says the boyfriend, Clinten Ray Cardenaz, has been arrested as a person of interest.
According to the report, Cardenaz claims that the victim was dropped off by a friend at his house after getting injured during a 4-wheeler accident yesterday. Several hours later, he dropped her off at the hospital after he says the woman's condition "started deteriorating rapidly".
Both Stradley and the Marie Detty Woman's Shelter say unfortunately cases like this are on the rise. Stradley says the injuries that the victim suffered were brutal.
"She could have lost her life easily with this deal. They took her in to surgery and they tried to take care of her spleen and stuff like that. So, she's really in serious condition," said Stradley.
But, Stradley says Cardenaz has not confessed to causing her injuries.
"He continues to say that it was an accident and we will continue to look into that. But we're waiting for her. We're waiting to talk to her. From talking to individuals and taking statements from other people that overheard their conversation, we believe that possibly he is our suspect," said Stradley.
Melissa Fritts of Marie Detty New Directions says it is common for a victim of domestic abuse to create a cover story.
"A lot of it has to do with shame. They are very ashamed of their situation. They don't want anyone to know about their situation. Or it could be out of fear. Perhaps he threatened her if she told anyone," said Fritts.
Stradley says that these types of cases are becoming common
"In about six months we've had 42 domestic abuse [cases] in the county. Eight in December," said Stradley.
"Many people don't report it, so that case number could be quite low. As far as incoming in my office for counseling, I would say it has increased over this time last year definitely," said Stradley.
Stradley says when it comes to domestic violence cases, it is often "he said, she said" unless there are witnesses. So, the investigation must be thorough.
"We can't come up with assumptions. We have to be able to put this together and prove it. Hopefully, when she comes to and can talk to us, hopefully, we can," said Stradley.
Cardenaz was arrested on aggravated assault and battery charges. According to the report, he has been arrested several times in the last few months.
The Marie Detty New Directions Youth and Family Services Center says if you know someone who might be a victim of domestic abuse, ask them if they need help. They say you or the victim can call their hotline at (580) 357-2500 for help.