Missy Cornett calls for secure child custody exchange sites

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - She lost three family members in a shooting last month on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College. Now, Missy Cornett is talking about the need for secure child custody exchange centers.

Cornett says she thinks her family would be alive today if only her niece Caitlin had a safe place to pick up her son from the child's father, Dalton Stidham. She joins the voices of those who deal with domestic violence daily, who are calling for better access to child exchange centers.

Missy Cornett says all of this could have been avoided. Cornett's husband, daughter and niece, 53-year-old Jackie, 12-year-old Taylor, and 20-year old Caitlin, were gunned down last month in the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College.

"They thought that the college was a safe place," Missy said, "and we see now that it wasn't."

Now Missy says she wants others to have access to more secure areas to exchange a child.

"Metal detectors maybe and have two opposite doors for them to come into where they wouldn't even have to see each other. That would have to be a lot safer," she said.

Darlene Thomas, executive director of the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, says the Hazard shooting underscores the need for safe exchange centers. She says other options are risky.

"A public place in and of its self or having family members with you would not necessarily be the best safety mechanism," she said.

Both Thomas and Missy Cornett say a statewide network of secure child exchange centers could help prevent violence.

"If something like this had to happen, at least maybe someone's now listening, and that something can be done, because my family could still be alive today," Cornett said.

Cornett says she hopes lawmakers will hear her story, and act to make custody exchanges safer.


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