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24/7 HelpLine: 734-995-5444
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
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Si esta en grave peligro, llame a 911.
SafeHouse Center SPEAKS OUT
Giving a voice to our survivors and advocates.

Statement on Murder/Suicide in Ypsilanti

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

SafeHouse Center Statement Issued by Barbara Niess-May, Executive Director

On July 16, SafeHouse Center learned through social media that Courtney Neely had been murdered by her former partner, Michael Taylor on July 15 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. After he killed her, he killed himself. Their four month old baby survived. This happened despite the fact that Courtney sought help for the situation. She had left, sought safety, got a new place and started a new life for her and her infant child. 

As an organization, we are saddened by this unnecessary loss of life. And, it is compounded by the fact that there was no public mention of this murder/suicide by the news media, law enforcement or the criminal system as a whole. Courtney died because of domestic violence. Making no mention of this murder propels the belief that domestic violence is the fault of the victim and that her life was not important. 

There are critical components to this case, that we believe the public should know about: 

  • Courtney was a Black woman. We believe that society still views Black people, women in particular, as dispensable thus it was not considered important to report her violent death. It is as though it never happened. The lack of awareness regarding violence toward black women must be addressed in order to ensure that the rights of those at the intersections of marginalized identities are achieved. 
  • The murderer, her former partner and father of her child, had been arrested for assaulting Courtney on April 15. The judge released Michael Taylor on a personal recognizance bond on April 17. Sadly, personal recognizance bonds are all too common and this practice needs serious re-evaluation in our community. 
  • Washtenaw County partners (law enforcement, prosecution, judges, social services) review fatalities of those who were victims of domestic violence, and relevant representatives will be invited to participate in a review to better understand what could have been done to save Courtney’s life. 

Domestic violence continues at extraordinary levels in our community. Speaking the truth about how it impacts survivors is critical if we as a community expect to end domestic violence. Our community needs to know about the threatening ways in which domestic violence is present in the lives of survivors. 

Also, survivors deserve to know how dangerous assailants can be. Assailants will use all the tactics they have to gain and maintain power and control over their partners. There is help and support in our community. 

SafeHouse Center is the organization in Washtenaw County that provides help and support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Services include 24/7 HelpLine, emergency shelter, children’s services, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy including assistance with obtaining Personal Protection Orders, training and community education. Services can be accessed through our helpline, 734-995-5444. For more information please visit our website at www.safehousecenter.org. 


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