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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – As authorities continue to investigate this week’s violent triple homicide in Ardmore, WHNT News 19 has learned one of the victims sought a protective order against the suspect, Darwin Brazier.

Brazier is accused of using a rifle to shoot multiple times and kill Debra Ann Rivera, 41 (suspect’s ex-wife), Radex Rivera, 41 (Debra’s new husband), and Timothy James Hayward-Boger (a roommate of the other two victims) Sunday afternoon at their home on Pinedale Road.

“The sheriff’s office has a history of calls at that residence when the victim and offender initially lived together,” said Stephen Young, Public Information Officer at the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office.

Rivera and Brazier divorced more than 10 years ago.

WHNT News 19 has learned that she tried multiple times to earn an order of protection from abuse to restrain Brazier from behavior she alleges, including stalking.

In the most recent petition during March, Debra alleges Brazier caused her to fear for her life, followed her, drove repeatedly past her house, and threatened her. She wrote that it had become worse since she was given custody of the kids, listing two children’s names in the complaint.

Brazier, in a later filing to answer the petition, denied all accusations. A Limestone County judge later dismissed the petition for a protective order in April.

What is a protective order?

Rob Broussard, Madison County District Attorney, sums it up like this: “If it’s well-grounded, then a judge can issue an order towards the other individual for them to stay away from you.”

He added, “I would imagine the vast majority of people– it gets their attention.”

Broussard explained that the idea is to deter someone from hurting you. While protective orders are enforced by law, you’re at the mercy of how well the defendant respects the order and its requirements.

“The idea is that it will deter somebody from continuing to harass you, or bother you, or threaten you. But the big variable there is: who are you dealing with, and ultimately, is it going to be nothing more than a piece of paper?” Broussard said. “And if it’s somebody that’s so vile, or wicked, or desperate that, ‘I don’t care. I don’t care if you have a piece of paper or not, and I intend to harm you and I’m going to harm you.’ Somebody of that mindset, I don’t know that a piece of paper really has much to do with it.”

He was quick to follow that a protective order is a prudent step, if there are grounds for one, that can be helpful to many.

“Anybody who is living in fear because of someone else, certainly involve authorities,” he said. “”Do everything you can do. Don’t quit fighting.”

Broussard said prosecutors and law enforcement can also use protective orders to build a case if something goes wrong.

“If there’s that history there, between them, more often than not it can be good, strong evidence against someone,” he explained.

How to Get Help

The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence can help you if you feel like you are in trouble.

The group has published a list of advice if you need to seek safety, including getting away from your attacker, telling someone you trust, and planning escape routes. You can find that page by clicking here.

There are also some resources for you to let someone know what is going on and figure out a path forward: