Kevin Ewing was declared brain-dead Wednesday, bringing an end to what Pennsylvania cops and prosecutors call a harrowing, decades-long cycle of domestic abuse. Police say Ewing shot himself Tuesday night after fatally shooting his wife, whom he had kidnapped for a second time while on bail for kidnapping and abusing her for 12 days, the AP reports. Washington County Assistant DA Kristen Clingerman says she tried to keep Ewing in jail, and secured a protection-from-abuse order when a judge declined to raise his bail—even though his wife changed her mind about getting one. Clingerman says she was heartbroken to see the body of 48-year-old Tierne Ewing in the barn where her husband had taken her.
The couple, who had been together since eighth grade and raised two children together, had been known to authorities for many years. In 2001, Kevin Ewing was sentenced to seven months in prison for assaulting his wife. Police say that in the days before he forced her into a car at gunpoint Monday, Tierne Ewing had been staying with her husband at his mother's house. "Anybody you would talk to would ask 'Why did she go back?' But, mental health professionals will tell and I've seen it again and again, battered women, this is what they do. They go back," state police trooper Sarah Teagarden tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Mrs. Ewing is the classic, quintessential example of battered women's syndrome. The question is, how do you teach these girls, these women not to go back?"