A Pennsylvania man free on bond awaiting trial for abducting and torturing his wife killed the woman after kidnapping her a second time, fulfilling a promise he made that she long believed would come true, devastated relatives said.
State Police and South Strabane officers said they found the body of 48-year-old Tierne Ewing inside a rural barn at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, hours after she was allegedly abducted by her gun-wielding, estranged husband, from whom she had a filed a protection-from-abuse order.
Kevin Ewing, 47, forced his wife to leave with him from a West Finley Township home at gunpoint near the West Virginia border at about 12:35 a.m. Tuesday, State Police said.
“He did what he said he would do and what she said he would do. She died,” her cousin Anastasia Higginbotham wrote on Facebook.
It would be the second time Kevin Ewing would be charged with kidnapping in just two months, a pattern of abuse that stemmed far back into their decades-long marriage, Tierne Ewing’s nephew, MacKenzi Kopko, told InsideEdition.com.
“This isn’t the first time that anything like this had happened. He had beaten her at least two times before,” the 18-year-old man said. “About 12 years ago was the first time, she was at an Exxon gas station and he had shown up, broke out the driver’s side window and pulled her out by her hair and beat her in the parking lot. And not one person attempted to stop it.”
Kevin Ewing was found guilty of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person in April 2001 and of terroristic threats in November 2001, records show. It was not immediately clear if these incidents involved his wife.
"The defendant's criminal history includes prior crimes of domestic violence including simple assault and terroristic threats. In addition, the defendent was charged with multiple protection from abuse order violations," a motion for a modification or increase of bond status filed in July by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said.
"The defendent's wife, Tierne Ewing, was also the victim of the defendent's prior crimes of domestic violence. Said prior crimes also resulted in the victim requiring medical treatment for her injuries," it continued.
“He always told her — and she would always tell us when anything happened — that, ‘The only way you’re leaving Tierne, is if you’re leaving this house in a pine box, that’s the only way,’” Kopko said between sobs.
“She was scared that no matter what, that even if she did get away, he would find her,” he said.
Tierne Ewing lived her life in desperation, Higginbotham told InsideEdition.com.
“By definition, as a woman with an abusive partner, she did not have any real choices,” she said. “Under those circumstances, death, torment and terror are infused into every minute of every day. Like all women who are killed by their spouses, she wanted to live and deserved to live.”
Tierne Ewing finally escaped her abusive husband’s grip in July after he had held her captive for nearly two weeks, forcing her to endure unspeakable abuse that she was convinced would only end when she died, officials said.
The woman told authorities that from June 26 to July 8, her husband beat and pistol-whipped her, spat on her, taped her mouth shut, kept her hands tied behind her back with wire and a cord around her neck.
He also branded her legs with hot metal, hit her in the head with a handgun, hit her with a hammer and locked her in a closet, the motion said.
"...[F]or over 11 days, [Kevin Ewing] repeatedly [held] a loaded gun to her head, repeatedly telling her he was going to kill her and kill himseld," the motion said.
Tierne Ewing saw her chance to escape when Kevin Ewing sent her into a credit union to withdraw money. She told tellers that she was being held against her will and feared that her husband would kill her, the complaint said.
Police arrived to find the terrified woman barricaded in a room in the business, telling an officer, "I don’t want to die." When she finally came out, cops were met by a bruised and battered woman suffering from a concussion and deep cuts on her skin.
“Emotionally, she was completely exhausted. Physically, she was drained. She was living in fear,” Kopko said. “She just wanted out of [the marriage] completely.”
Police found Kevin Ewing sitting outside the credit union in his pickup truck, armed with two loaded guns.
He was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, carrying a gun without a license, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment.
His bond was set at $100,000, which Common Pleas Judge Gary Gilman would not raise when a prosecutor asked for a higher amount to keep him from being released, given the severity of the charges.
“He should not have been given bail,” Kopko said. “Someone with (that record) should never have been given bail.”
When Kevin Ewing posted bond on July 11, Gilman ordered that he be confined to his home with an ankle-monitoring bracelet that was equipped with a GPS tracker, ADA Kirstin Clingerman told InsideEdition.com.
However, the bracelet was not programmed to provide GPS information, but instead only sent out a signal if he left the house, the Associated Press reported. He reportedly cut the bracelet off before going after his wife again.
“The first thing we thought was that he was going to cut off his ankle bracelet and try to find her,” Kopko said. “For us as a family, it’s not even so much at Kevin that the anger is directed, it’s at the court for allowing this to happen.”
Multiple attempts made by InsideEdition.com to reach Gilman were unsuccessful.
“He's still living and she is not! Where is the responsibility of our judicial system?” another loved one in mourning wrote on Facebook.
Kevin Ewing was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head near his wife’s body and was taken to a hospital in unknown condition, authorities said.
Should he live, he will be charged with homicide, Clingerman said.
“Tierne was so caring and so warmhearted and just wouldn’t have hurt anybody,” Kopko said, fighting back tears. She leaves behind two children and two grandchildren.
“We have no idea why it would come to this. It came to her dying for her to get away from it, from him,” he continued, pausing to breathe between sobs. “But now that she’s finally safe, I know that she can rest in peace and no other harm can come to her.”