AUGUSTA — Parents and other family members of murdered children discussed ways to prevent violence with Maine Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese on Sunday so that more families don’t have to live the nightmare their lives became after their loved ones were taken from them.

Marchese noted that about half of all homicides in Maine are related to domestic violence. She said the Maine Domestic Violence Homicide Review Panel, which she has chaired since 2001, meets regularly to review all resolved domestic violence homicide cases with a goal of identifying ways to prevent such homicides.

“There may be some recommendations in (the group’s latest report) that involve your loved ones,” Marchese told about 30 members of the Maine chapter of Parents of Murdered Children who gathered at the Calumet Club in Augusta. “It’s a small but important way to honor domestic violence victims’ lives by looking at what happened to them. We look at what we can make for changes to our systems. We’re checking ourselves. Obviously somebody didn’t do a good job – somebody died.”

Marchese said the panel sees some things repeatedly in the crimes it examines. She shared recommendations based on what has been seen again and again. They include these three:

n The most lethal time for any domestic violence victim is when a relationship is ending, so if you know somebody in an abusive relationship, Marchese said to make sure that person has a plan to safely remove herself or himself from the relationship.

n Noting some 70 percent of people who commit domestic violence homicide threaten suicide before they killed the victim, Marchese urged anyone with a family member who threatens suicide to get him or her help.

n She said the panel has seen that firearms are consistently the weapon of choice for people committing domestic violence murders.

“In my personal opinion, until we make progress in this area, we aren’t going to reduce domestic violence homicides,” she said. “Firearms are too easily lethal when somebody has a gun in the closet they can access when they become very angry. The only difference, in many instances, between a battered woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun.”

Arthur Jette – leader of the Maine chapter of Parents of Murdered Children and whose grandson Treven Cunningham, 21 months old, was slain in 1999 in Dexter – said part of the group’s mission is preventing more homicides.

He and others have advocated for the creation of a Maine State Police cold case squad to investigate unsolved homicides and missing persons cases. Many attendees signed a petition asking the Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage to create and fund a squad to focus on such unsolved cases.

Jette said there are at least 120 unsolved homicides, suspicious deaths and missing persons cases in Maine.