INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) — A shooting victim, who investigators say was lured to a home and then shot through the door, shared her story publicly for the first time in Indiana County on Wednesday evening.
She was just one of the speakers at a forum on domestic violence.
“Sometimes, it could even be your best friend and you don’t even know about it, and the law enforcement has to go out and take action against these people,” said Sheriff Robert Fyock, of Indiana County.
There was a large turnout at the Kovalchick Convention Center Wednesday for a panel discussion on domestic violence coinciding with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Experts on the panel included representatives of law enforcement, the medical profession and the court system.
“She is a survivor of domestic violence,” said Patrick Doughterty, the Indiana County District Attorney. “This woman has gone through hell and back in the last nine months.”
The most dramatic moments came when Billie Jo Varner was introduced to the audience. She was given a standing ovation by the crowd.
“I was in a drug-induced coma for five days. I laid on an operating table wide open with saran wrap covering my stomach,” Varner, a domestic violence survivor, told the audience. “My mom and my dad looked into my stomach. They saw my insides.”
Police say Varner was shot and critically wounded by her estranged boyfriend after being lured to the home they shared in Green Township under the pretense she needed to care for their puppies.
That fateful day she showed up at the house with her father. Her father, in fact, had to plug one of the bullet holes with his finger until paramedics arrived.
Varner also talked to the crowd about the ripple effect of domestic violence.
“I didn’t realize that my kids suffered,” she said. “My kids saw the fights, my kids saw the name calling.”
Varner’s estranged boyfriend is awaiting trial. He remains in the Indiana County Jail.
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