The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Faces of Domestic Violence

October 27, 2012

Kristy Gissendanner: 'Vivacious and sweet'

Man kills wife and leaves newborn, toddler alone before killing self

ANDERSON, Ind. — There were few times that Kristy Gissendanner let her newborn daughter leave the comfort of her arms. And if she did, it would be to place the infant in a bassinet near her.

Kristy, 26, snuggled Gabrielle as much as she could. She simply loved her role as a mom, said her sister, Melissa Miller.

And six-day-old Gabrielle and her 18-month-old brother Michael weren’t far from their mom when Harry Gissendanner shot and killed Kristy in their Anderson home on Nov. 2, 2004. He left the newborn in the bassinet and Michael roaming the house before going to a Fishers’ hotel room where he barricaded himself inside and used the gun to kill himself.

Melissa and her sister, Heather Miller, discovered Kristy’s body about 20 hours after she’d been killed. The children were unharmed.

The family knew of no history of violence between the two.

Both Melissa and Kristy’s mother, Debbie Miller, recalled Harry Gissendanner’s gambling problem holding such a grip on him that he would up and disappear at times. Weeks before Gabrielle was born, Kristy had reported him missing.

Once, when the couple lived in Virgina, Kristy returned home from her job with Amtrak to discover that Harry had sold their home — to feed his gambling habit. That’s when Kristy decided to move back to Anderson to buy a home. He eventually followed reappearing just about a week before their daughter was born.

Debbie described her daughter as “vivacious and sweet,” saying everyone adored her. Melissa said her sister was a free spirit and loved trying new things. Kristy, she added, was “always right” and was someone you wouldn’t want to face in a debate. Debbie and husband, Michael, so enjoyed their time with Kristy.

“She was very protective of us,” Melissa said. “She taught me how to play the flute and the basics of marching before I started so I could stand out from the other freshman. Playing in the band was the only time she was every completely focused.”

Kristy’s death shocked the family; they would later learn of Harry’s struggle with mental illness.

“Cherish each moment you have with your family because they could be gone in a second,” Melissa said, wiping away tears. “She just loved everyone. I never met a single person who said a bad thing about her.”

Debbie said the family misses Kristy tremendously. With the anniversary of her death just days away, thoughts of her were coming frequently. But then again, there isn’t a day that Debbie doesn’t think about her daughter.

“I wish she could have seen her babies grow up,” Debbie said, sadly. “And I want young women, anyone really that is getting into a relationship, to just really make sure they get to know them first before going into a commitment.”

Kristy and Harry Gissendanner had been married for about 18 months.

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Faces of Domestic Violence
  • 1028 news Domestic Violence illustration06 - Copy.JPG Who can stop domestic violence? You

    The elimination of abuse in relationships — with time, cooperation and commitment — is possible, said Colleen Yeakle, coordinator of the Indiana Coalition of Domestic Violence’s (ICADV) prevention initiative.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Legislation comes a long way, but more change needed

    Each year the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence sets its legislative priorities based on year-round discussions with its members and legislators to see what needs are out there and what is going on in the field.

    October 27, 2012

  • 1028 news Empty Table Settings 18a.jpg Children affected by abuse too

    While some may think the atmosphere at Alternatives, the Anderson domestic violence shelter, would be a somber one, instead it is a building filled with laughter and joy.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • Gissendanner, Kristy.jpg Kristy Gissendanner: 'Vivacious and sweet'

    Six-day-old Gabrielle Gissendanner and her 18-month-old brother Michael weren’t far from their mom when Harry Gissendanner shot and killed Kristy in their Anderson home in 2004.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • John Davis: ‘Defined by your actions and inactions’

    John Davis wants his pain to make a difference. He’s hopeful sharing what he experienced and witnessed growing up will empower someone else to leave a dangerous situation or avoid it altogether.

    October 27, 2012

  • ‘It was life-altering’

    Casey Huffman should have taken her son Camdon to his first day of kindergarten this year. She should be picking out a Halloween costume for him. She should be thinking about how to help him achieve his hopes and dreams. Instead, Casey mourns over his all-too-early death.

    October 27, 2012

  • Tomlinson, Tina.tif Tina Tomlinson: 'She was a hoot'

    Tina Tomlinson was just “plain fun,” her family recalled. The mother of two and dedicated grandmother was someone family could look to for a good time.

    October 27, 2012 1 Photo

  • 1024 news Domestic violence forum 108a.jpg Domestic violence prevention is possible, expert says

    Gender stereotypes are just one thing that Todd Cawthorn and five other speakers, during a 90-minute panel discussion Tuesday night, talked about that create an environment where domestic violence is accepted.

    October 23, 2012 3 Photos

  • 1023 news Dating violence talk 33a.jpg Teens can be victims of domestic violence, too

    Dating violence has been seen locally in relationships as young as sixth grade, Alternatives Inc. prevention specialist Todd Cawthorn said.

    October 22, 2012 2 Photos

  • 1021 news pendleton town court 020.jpg Justice for victims

    While a protective order is an important piece of the legal puzzle that domestic violence victims have to solve, Judge Stephen Clase stresses to each that it is, after all, “just a piece of paper.” “They won’t stop a knife or a bullet,” he said. “I tell them they need to be on guard at all times.”

    October 20, 2012 1 Photo

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  • Where to find help

    Alternatives Inc., 24-hour crisis line
    (765) 643-0200 or (866) 593-9999
    Kandi Floyd, Christy Clark, Dara Tracy -- victim’s advocates
    Victims Assistance Program, Madison County Sheriff’s Department
    (765) 646-4078 or (765) 646-4079
    Gay Doss, Jaime Wilhoite -- victim assistance providers
    Victim Assistance Program, Madison County Prosecutor‘s Office
    (765) 641-9673
    Melinda Padgett, Karla Montgomery, Alison Lutz, Gracie Roman, Laura Evans -- victim assistance providers
    Victim Assistance Unit, Anderson Police Department
    (765) 648-6773, Lessa Johnson, Christy Jones -- victim assistance specialists
    Sowers of Seeds Counseling, Batters’ Intervention Program
    (765) 649-3452
    Vaughn Walker -- supervisor

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