Slain Council Bluffs woman, husband had troubled history -
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 12:27 pm
Slain Council Bluffs woman, husband had troubled history

COUNCIL BLUFFS — The domestic dispute that led to a fatal shooting Tuesday wasn't the first time that police had been called to the home of Darwin and Millisa Cox.

Darwin Cox had been arrested Sept. 12 and charged with aggravated domestic abuse involving his wife. He pleaded not guilty to that charge Friday, said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.

A restraining order obtained by Millisa Cox was lifted 11 days after that incident, one of many in September that resulted in a visit to the Cox home by authorities.

Millisa Cox, 44, was pronounced dead Tuesday at Mercy Hospital. She had been shot in the back, police said.

Darwin Cox, 55, wounded by a self-­inflicted gunshot, is expected to recover. He was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center.

Wilber said an arrest warrant hadn't been issued for Cox, but he would probably be charged with first-degree murder after his release from the hospital.

Millisa Cox is the fourth person to die this year as a result of domestic violence in Iowa, said Diane McKee, program manager of the Catholic Charities Phoenix House shelter in Council Bluffs. Three women have died in Omaha from domestic violence injuries this year.

Darwin Cox has at least two previous domestic assault arrests and two assault arrests in Pottawattamie County dating to 1996. All were dismissed in court. Millisa Cox had at least one domestic assault arrest as well, in a 2010 incident that was dismissed.

Darwin Cox kept police at bay for more than an hour Tuesday after the shooting of his wife.

The disturbance began about 8:15 a.m. at 3441 Ave. B, two blocks north of West Broadway. It ended about 9:45 a.m. with Darwin Cox being carried out on a gurney.

Cox suffered a gunshot wound to the head that was superficial, said Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Chad Meyers.

Alex Dolezal, 17, who lives across the street and is a friend of the Coxes' 16-year-old son, Morgan Cox, said an argument began Monday night. He heard screaming and went to the house to offer help.

Dolezal said he saw Millisa Cox “throw a pair of scissors that stuck in the back” of Darwin Cox and then fell out.

Dolezal, 17, and his friend Ozzie Palen, 15, said they were able to calm things down at the Cox house.

“We sat around for a few hours, shooting the breeze. We talked for a good two hours,” said Palen. “We thought it was done when we left.”

They went home about 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Jennie Rolli, who also lives across the street from the home, said Millisa Cox came outside just after 8 a.m., sat down by a tree and began yelling, “Help me! Help me!”

After Millisa Cox was taken to the hospital, officers later surrounded the home and called for negotiators and the SWAT team.

When members of the SWAT team tossed a contact phone through a window, they noticed that Darwin Cox was apparently unconscious on the floor. They rushed inside about 9:45 a.m.

Morgan Cox has been placed with family members, police said. A nearby school, Franklin Elementary, was placed on lockdown during the standoff.

Tammy Pitcher, whose daughter used to date a son of Darwin and Millisa Cox, said she wasn't shocked by the incident.

“There's a lot of violence in the family,” she said.

The World-Herald News Service contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: Alissa Skelton    |   402-444-1066    |  

Alissa is a breaking news and general assignment reporter for

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