Portsmouth murder reignites push for tougher domestic violence laws

Flowers for Yolanda Mcardle rest outside 100 Almeida Terrace. (Photo: WPRI/Susan Campbell)

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — A bouquet of flowers now rests outside a Portsmouth apartment complex in honor of a woman that was murdered there this week.

Police have identified the victim as 42-year-old Yolanda Mcardle, and say they’re investigating her death as a case of domestic homicide.

Mcardle’s boyfriend, Raymond Ramsey, is accused of stabbing her to death late Tuesday night. After responding to a noise complaint at 100 Almeida Terrace, police said they found Ramsey in the room with the victim and the murder weapon.

According to court records, Ramsey had already been arrested three times for alleged domestic assaults, and Mcardle had a no-contact order out against him.

Mcardle’s death was the third domestic homicide in the state in just 16 days. In light of that, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence says they’re planning to draft legislation that would require screenings at bail hearings to assess the risk of suspected offenders.

The organization is also calling for the creation of a domestic violence prevention fund.

“I can’t tell you how important that is in light of these horrible tragedies, because we know that domestic violence is preventable,” said the coalition’s spokesperson, Deb DeBare. “If we could just put some resources into prevention and education in our state, we know we could reduce the number of homicides.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said it’s possible lawmakers take up legislation related to domestic violence when their next session gets underway in January.

“Domestic violence is a very serious issue,” he said in a statement Thursday. “Without seeing the specifics of legislation that may be proposed for next year’s session, I can only comment in general terms that we will hold public hearings and carefully consider changes in the domestic violence laws.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin also offered statements on Thursday.

“Governor Raimondo is a longstanding advocate for victims of domestic violence, and understands just how deeply this issue impacts Rhode Island families. As Treasurer, she strengthened the Crime Victims Compensation Program – and as Governor, she is committed to continuing to work with leaders across the state to increase awareness, prevent violence, and keep our families safe.”

“The recent domestic homicides are a stark reminder of the devastation caused by domestic violence and that no community is immune,” Kilmartin added in his statement. “The prosecution of domestic violence has been, and will continue to be, a priority with the Office of Attorney General. A Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit was established in the Office and is staffed with specially trained prosecutors and victim advocates. The Office of Attorney General vigorously prosecutes abusers and works to connect victims with the resources they need to protect themselves from the abuse. As Attorney General, I am committed to continue working with our law enforcement partners, the Courts, and our community partners to help victims of domestic violence get the support they need to escape the abuse and to effectively prosecute the offenders.”

Ramsey, 50, was hurt during the incident and taken to the hospital for treatment. He was arraigned at his bedside and ordered held without bail. He’ll be transported to the ACI once he’s discharged.

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