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Two Death Investigations; One Common Tie

The recent murder of a Cumberland woman has police in Hagerstown taking another look at a suspicous death investigation of a local woman from 2010. Turns out both women were in a relationship with the same man.

HAGERSTOWN, MD - Hagerstown investigators say they are taking a closer look at the 2010 death investigation of Tammy Myerly after learning she had something in common with the victim of a recent murder case in Cumberland.

Earlier this month family and friends remembered Lisa Simmons of Cumberland with a candlelight vigil.

Simmons was reported missing, and then the case became a homicide investigation after evidence, including a blood stain that matched her DNA, was found inside her home. 

"She was the love of my life," says Simmons' mother, Carol Growden.

Stephen Schleuniger, who was Simmons' live-in boyfriend, was charged with first-degree murder.

Police say although Simmons' body hasn't been found, they discovered enough evidence to charge him in the case.

Family and friends say they're sure he was abusing Simmons.

"He literally deteriorated that woman," says her friend and neighbor Amy. "Broke her spirit."

It's a case that's left her family with lots of questions, the same types of questions are on the minds of Myerly's family.

Myerly's body was discovered inside her Hagerstown home after neighbors complained about an odd smell.

Medical examiners weren't able to indicate the cause of death, and for three years police have continuously asked, "Is it natural causes? Is it by criminal means? What caused this to happen."

But could police have a big lead in the case? Turns out, Schleuniger had been dating Myerly right before her death.

"Having somebody in common with a case that we're investigating that has no closure has caused us to activate the case and actually start looking at it over again at this point in time," says Lt. Jim Hurd with the Hagerstown Police Department.

And just a month before Myerly was found dead she filed a protective order against Schleuniger for domestic violence.

According to court documents, Myerly claimed Schleuniger had raped her, shoved her against the wall and made threats of violence against her.

Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused (CASA) specializes is helping those involved in domestic violence situations.

"When it does get to that point yes a lot of times it is escalating the situation might be getting worse and they realize that I do need to reach out I need to get some help I need someone to come in and let this person know this is abusive behavior and it can't go on," says a CASA Crisis Intake Specialist, Marcy.

CASA says the first step in getting help is reaching out to local domestic violence programs and learning about safety plans.

Family and friends in Cumberland are also sending a message to those who are in an abusive relationship.

"Please get out of it," says Simmons' good friend and neighbor, Donna Hartzell. "Run as fast as you can, don't let her death be in vain."

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