Seeing Stars: She stayed and now she's gone for good

I read a story in the Leader about the first murder in Burbank since 2009. A 70-year-old man beat his 64-year-old wife to death in Burbank, just a few miles away from me and the whole thing has left me with many questions about the victim, Marie Brancato.

Who was she and why did she stay with a man who had beaten her before?

The story is way too common. Joseph Brancato had been convicted of spousal abuse many times and used a chair leg to kill his wife. Why was he out of jail? But most of all, why didn't anybody help her get out?

I'm sure he struggles with insecurity, self-hatred and anger that he turned on the woman he called his wife. I have no interest or pity for whatever happens to him now. Sadly, I'm sure he justifies or excuses his actions. Abusers always do, unless it serves them to pretend they're sorry, but usually they only feel sorry for themselves. But who feels sorry for Marie?

Could this have been prevented?

What if we give abused women one of those life alert buttons so they could immediately call for help?

The story didn't say if she had children but said the neighbors heard them arguing all the time, so had anybody tried to get her to leave? Had any of those neighbors reached out to her?

See what I mean? Nothing but questions left and there doesn't seem to be anymore information days later. She's gone, but I hope there's somebody out there holding her memory.

It's too late for Marie but there might be someone you know who needs help. Speak up and call 911 if you hear arguing that sounds violent. Just do it.

Cassandra M. Bellantoni is a Los Angeles freelance reporter, producer, video editor and featured front-page blogger on Huffington Post. She is also a former chef, restaurant owner and breast cancer survivor. Follow her on Twitter @StarShineSpeaks or email

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