AUSTIN (KXAN) — More details are emerging about the domestic violence that led up to the shooting Sunday police are now investigating as the murder of an Austin woman.
According to an affidavit, the woman who was killed, 50-year-old Ronda Beans, first called Austin police in June of 2017 with worries about the man now suspected in her murder, Waymon “Keith” Eason, 49. During that call, she asked officers to stand by while she gathered her possessions from her home. She said she was afraid of her boyfriend, Eason, who had been sending her threatening text messages and chasing her down the street.
Beans told officers that Eason had been saying he “is going to find her wherever she goes and that this will end with the two of them together.”
In early January of 2017, Ronda called APD again, saying Eason became aggressive the day before and decided to move out. Beans said she changed the locks to prevent him from coming back. Days later she called APD again saying she was having ongoing issues with her ex-boyfriend who had been harassing her with text messages and telephone calls.
According to the affidavit, a witness told police she was outside talking to Beans in the street when a man armed with a semi-automatic gun walked toward her. Beans tried to take cover, but the man chased her and shot her in the street, then continued to fire at her. There was also a juvenile related to Beans who witnessed the shooting.
When KXAN spoke with the victim’s sister, Vivian Beans, on Monday, she expressed concern at the details her family had learned about Eason’s criminal history after her sister’s death.
“If we only knew his background ahead of time, could this have been different? I know my sister didn’t know his background, I know she didn’t,” said Vivian Beans.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Eason was most recently served time in TDCJ from 2012-2016 on a 5-year sentence for violation of a protective order in Travis County. He also served time in 1996 and 1992.
His other convictions include: aggravated robbery (1989), burglary of a habitation (1992), aggravated kidnapping (1992), theft (1995), evading arrest (1995), assault causing bodily injury to a family member (2008), violation of a protective order (2010) and violating a protective order (2012).
“Mr. Eason and Beans were formerly romantically involved, there was a history of violence between the two, Ms. Beans wanted to end it and Mr. Eason wanted to continue,” said Sgt De Los Santos with APD’s Homicide Unit. De Los Santos couldn’t reveal the details of Eason’s interview with police, however, he said, “I can tell you that there’s regret on his part.”
APD doesn’t believe there was a protective order filed by Beans against Eason at the time the shooting happened; However, Bean’s family believes she was in the early stages of filing one.
Detectives added that there will be maybe six to nine more months of interviews and processing evidence before they conclude this investigation.
The elementary schools where Beans worked are mourning her death — Harris Elementary School sent a letter notifying the community.
“Her dedication to the health and wellness of students earned her the respect of students and colleagues alike. She will be missed, and our prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to her family and loved ones,” the letter read.
Additional counselors have been provided at Blanton and Harris Elementary schools to help people who may need support following her death.
“Unfortunately we had no knowledge of what was going on at home, we only saw her every day with a smile and she never ever let on that she was having any kind of trouble,” said Monica Martinez, principal of Thomas G Harris Early College Prep.
Martinez said Beans had been working there for 12 years and was well known to families there. “Parents were always happy to see her, she had kids in and out of the clinic, if they came in crying they always came out smiling,” Martinez said.
“She was a real sweet lady, anytime [my son] had fever or was sick, she would call me up and I’d come over and pick him up,” said Christopher Estrada, a parent at T.G. Harris.
On Friday, the school is requesting that all staff members wear purple in honor of Beans and all those impacted by domestic violence.
Support for those impacted by domestic violence
Domestic violence support groups emphasize that for victims like Beans, they can be most in danger at the time they’re leaving a relationship
Sandra Molinari, director of community education at SAFE Alliance in Austin, explained that over the 15 years she’s worked there she’s seen domestic violence victims of every imaginable race, gender, income level and stage in life. She explained that victims are often embarrassed by the domestic violence and hide that all from their families.
She encourages those who may be uncomfortable telling their loved ones about their abuse to reach out to a resource like SAFE to get them help with safety planning and with giving resources.
Molinari worries that the average person not familiar with domestic violence might think that all the victim needs to do to be safe is leave the relationship.
“But the time a person in domestic violence is in the greatest danger is when they leave,” she said. “And we should respect when someone is not ready to leave and help them think through other options.”
“A large number of victims of domestic violence who end up killed, are killed after they’ve left. That’s one of the reasons many victims don’t leave,” Molinari said. “In this case as in many cases, the victim was injured by gunshot and we know that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation — it makes it much more dangerous that the victim will be killed by [the] abuser.”
Cameka Crawford with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is based in Austin, agrees that one of the most dangerous times for victims is when they are trying to leave an abusive relationship.
Crawford said that some of the things Beans experienced, like excessive texting and feeling like she was being watched, can be indicators of domestic violence
“So often people don’t think about texting as being domestic violence, they kind of minimize it because it’s texting,” she explained. ” But the perpetrator is making their partner feel like there is a consequence if you’re not responsive.”
Crawford added that domestic violence includes any behavior where perpetrators try to keep power or control over another person.
“This would be a case where we would say that she did the right thing,” Crawford said of Beans’ efforts to get help from police. “But I would encourage people to reach out and seek that support, recognizing it’s not always an easy thing to do.”
She said that most people don’t realize that their hotline isn’t just for victims, family members and neighbors with concerns can call the hotline and get help coming up with a safety plan for their loved ones.
“If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t,” Crawford said.
You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).