Police: Man killed while helping battered woman

March 12, 2010 11:34:07 AM PST
Reuben Abbott was stabbed to death while helping a woman who police say was being battered by her boyfriend. Now, Abbott's family wants to know why the alleged killer is a free.

Police say what started as an argument escalated into a deadly attack early Monday morning in Joliet.

"I feel so very sorry," said the woman who wants to keep her identity hidden.

Her face still displays a black eye from the beating police say she took from her boyfriend, Frank Jenkins, on Sunday night.

Jenkins has been charged with aggravated domestic battery and is free on bond. Shortly after he allegedly beat the woman, though, she called her friend, Reuben Abbott, who offered to come to her apartment to help keep her safe. Instead, a confrontation with Jenkins left Abbott dead.

"There's domestic violence. Something happened here. He came to the rescue trying to do the right thing and, as a result, he wind up losing his life," said Rick Abbott, Reuben's brother.

The situation may have been especially difficult for the 41-year-old Abbott. As a 6-year-old boy, he witnessed his mother, Ruth Abbott, being shot to death by her husband. His stepfather served eight years for the murder.

"The trauma of that has probably lasted him a lifetime. Only recently have people started to look at the impact of that trauma lifelong," said Tara Dabney, Family Rescue.

Dabney is an expert in domestic violence who says there are numerous victims here, including the woman's 7-year-old daughter who was home at the time.

Joliet police have been investigating the case but so far have filed no charges in connection with Abbott's death. A Will County state's attorney's spokesperson said, "it's still under review to determine whether charges are warranted."

"I haven't really grieved because I still have a lot of emotions. And it bothers me because he was a good person. If I could turn back the clock, I wish I could have," said the woman.

"My brother lost his life trying to do the right thing. In my eyes, that's a hero," said Rick Abbott.

As part of their investigation, police have learned that Abbott allegedly hit Jenkins first before the stabbing. They are checking forensics tests and reviewing statements.

The woman who called Abbott for help says she now has an order of protection against Jenkins.

Family Rescue's 24-hour crisis hotline is 800-360-6619.