Illustration by Alexandra Levasseur.

'He’s going to kill me': Police indifference to a woman stalked

On a warm Saturday night in July, about 50 graduates of Chisholm High’s class of ’96 gathered at Valentini’s Supper Club. Under the glow of fairy lights, surrounded by balloons and the sweeping fresco of some Italian villa, they mingled with beers and reminisced about high school reputations.

Some had driven up from the Twin Cities. Others had remained in this small north country town of 5,000. Shannon Jarvis arrived alone.

She’s a scrappy, five-foot-two woman with a nervy voice and choppy hair that looks like she styled it herself, with haste. She’d missed the event the day before — an ATV race through abandoned taconite mines — and hadn’t RSVP’ed for the dinner. Her oversized sunglasses only partially hid an ugly spread of deep maroon bruises, a purple nose, and an upper lip scored with dried blood.

As the night progressed and the party migrated to Tom and Jerry’s bar, Jarvis’ sunglasses came off. She explained that her injuries were the work of her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Alternating between blaming her own stupidity for staying with him and a determined effort to drink, forget, and have a good time, she nonetheless echoed a despondent refrain:

He’s going to kill me. The cops won’t do anything. No one can help me.

Jarvis’ story elicited uncomfortable sympathy from her former classmates. They said they weren’t familiar with her situation. Nor did they really know her boyfriend, Craig Champa, other than that he’s the nephew of former Chisholm Mayor John Champa. They weren’t prepared, several drinks in, to dive deep into a domestic history that is long, complex, and convoluted. It sure looked bad, but it was none of anyone’s business.

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Shannon Jarvis is pictured two days after the incident in Buyck, where her boyfriend Craig Champa allegedly picked her up and threw her down. Photo by Susan Du.

Jarvis’ frustration stems from the belief that the Chisholm Police Department seems to share that opinion.

Over four years of what she describes as her boyfriend’s increasingly violent behavior, police have filed 35 reports. They show that officers’ preferred method of dealing with Jarvis’ calls is to send Champa home — two houses away from hers — and tell him to leave her alone. If police can’t find him when they arrive, they consider the matter closed.

With nondescript phrases that conclude several reports — “Multiple prior calls for these parties,” “All parties again were advised to stay away from each other” — police reports and neighbors speak to a history of alleged stalking, in which Jarvis describes Champa breaking into her house, sitting across the street staring at her, pulling out her plants, and sending hundreds of texts in a single night that vacillate spastically from pestering to flirting to threatening.

With Chisholm police reluctant to investigate, Champa has learned that he can do nearly anything and get away with it, Jarvis says.  

The romance of Shannon and Craig

Shannon Jarvis is 39 years old, a single mother who leads afterschool and summer programs for kids. It’s an instinctive calling for a woman who helped raise a younger brother through grueling years of poverty following the death of their mother.

Jarvis’ eldest three children were born to her first husband. They split without bitterness, their friendship intact. The youngest belongs to her second husband, to whom Jarvis is still legally married, but hasn’t seen for the greater part of four years. He went to prison for assaulting his former girlfriend.

Craig Champa arrived in Jarvis’ life around the same time her second marriage disintegrated under the crush of drugs and infidelity. While her husband dated another woman, Jarvis was drawn to her 45-year-old neighbor who lived across the alley. Champa, an even-keeled, broad-shouldered man with a magnanimous smile, was eager to please. She found him a willing distraction.

“You burned yourself”

Champa is of old Chisholm blood, a high school dropout who works on and off in construction. He fathered two children with an ex-girlfriend of 16 years, but was never abusive.

But unlike Jarvis, whose record showed only traffic violations leading up to their relationship, Champa had an early and extensive introduction to criminal justice.

At 21, Champa received three felony convictions after an accomplice, Robert Rajala, implicated him in a rash of four-wheeler thefts.

While the cases were pending, Champa sent Rajala a letter at the Saginaw, Minnesota workhouse.

“RAJ (Fuckhead), you’re a stupid fucken NARK,” it began. “I hope you rot in there! …See you in hell. You burned yourself.”

The letter brought Champa another charge for witness tampering, which was ultimately dropped when he was convicted on other charges.

A vow to be not that type of woman

Over time Jarvis and Champa merged their lives and began to raise their children together. Champa eased his belongings into Jarvis’ house. When work became scarce, she provided. When Jarvis was short of money for bills, he put gas in her car and bought food for her dogs.

But a possessive temper lurked beneath his disarming charm. He began to take minute notice of Jarvis’ comings and goings and the company she kept. What initially seemed like a budding love’s desire to be close grew to intensive surveillance.

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Craig Champa told police that he couldn’t be sure if Shannon Jarvis left these scratches on his hand. Police used them to arrest Jarvis regardless. Photo provided by the Chisholm Police Department.

Jarvis’ children were the first to sense the tension. Daughter Mariah Warren, 18, found Champa off-putting, short of words and devoid of warmth.

Mariah watched as the mere presence of her mother’s friends and houseguests incited impulsive bursts of anger from Champa, how he began to accuse her mother of seeing other men. As arguments escalated with alarming frequency, Jarvis assuaged Champa’s insecurities by slowly withdrawing from every personal relationship extraneous to theirs.

"She has barely any friends," Mariah says. "She doesn’t talk to anybody. She’s never off cheating on him, and he would get irritated and freak out on her. I feel like she’s alone, you know. He made her lose all of her friends so he was the only one in her life that she could talk to."

Violence would enter the relationship in 2013.

“An old friend brought his little boy to visit Jarvis one day. After they left, Jarvis returned to painting her back porch. Champa appeared, accusing her of seeing other men behind his back. He knocked the cup of paint out of her hands and tipped her off a stepladder, she says.

Jarvis fought back with all her muster. She was no match for the six-foot, 200-pound man. He beat her on the back porch, she says.

Wounded and enraged, Jarvis resolved not to be the type of woman who suffered a man’s blows. She snuck over to Champa’s house the following day with a can of orange spray paint and splashed the indictment “Woman Abuser” across the front door.

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Jarvis's hands after an alleged altercation with Champa. Photo by Susan Du.

Regret soon crept in. Jarvis realized also that she despised the type of woman who would sink to vindictive lows. She returned to cover her vandalism with a fresh coat of paint.

But Champa called Chisholm police. Jarvis had spray-painted his door because he broke up with her, he claimed. He wouldn’t press charges. He just wanted it on record.

Jarvis was never contacted to explain her actions. She was told only to keep her distance.
Their separation did not last long. Champa proffered apologies and a promise of singular love and happiness if only they could learn to get along. Mariah begged her mother to say no. But Jarvis couldn’t help but love him, she says.

Their on-again, off-again romance persisted into 2014, when Jarvis’ fighting spirit began to wane.

Timothy Olson grew up in Chisholm. After graduation, he moved to Minneapolis and became a union official. On a visit home, he happened upon Jarvis at a bar. The old friends hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. They made a date for lunch.

It was raining the morning he picked her up. As she gathered her purse, Olson recalls thunderous rapping on the front door. He offered to answer. Jarvis warned him not to. It was her boyfriend, she said. He didn’t like her talking to other people.

The knocking continued as Jarvis’ phone buzzed with incessant calls. As the pair quietly waited out the intrusion, Olson got the sense that his friend was trapped inside her own home. Though he privately questioned the dynamics of Jarvis’ love life, he didn’t press for explanation.

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A text conversation between Jarvis and Champa

Eventually the knocking subsided and they drove to Valentini’s. No sooner had their coffee arrived when Champa stormed in, soaking wet from the rain and trembling with fury.

What the fuck are you doing here? Olson says Champa yelled at Jarvis. And who the fuck are you?
Champa accused Olson of trying to take his woman. He postured to fight.

Olson, who at 6 foot 4 inches stood half a head taller, realized Champa must have walked all over town before finding his car in Valentini’s parking lot.

“I kinda just defused the situation by talking to him and trying to rationalize with him,” Olson says. “‘Like dude, I’m not trying to fuck her. I haven’t seen Shannon in 20 years. Calm down. If this was something that I was trying to make happen, wouldn’t I try to take her somewhere more private?’”

The logic seemed to tame Champa, as did Olson’s offer to catch up with Jarvis another time. He took her home.

The next time Olson picked Jarvis up for lunch, it was a repeat of the first. Champa circled her house, pounding on the door, looking in the windows.

“I remember asking her, ‘Is that all he does? He just sits outside your house looking in your windows?’”

Unless the neighbors call police, she told him. Then he disappears. But he always comes back.

The violence escalates

Over the next two years, Mariah and her 15-year-old brother, Devin Warren, took turns calling the police after watching Champa bully and beat their mother. All told, police have written 35 incident reports on the couple. Twenty-five times they were called on her behalf, 10 times on his.

Once, Mariah was stranded in Nashwauk when she called her mother for a ride. Champa accompanied Jarvis. They were fighting on arrival.

Their arguments always started the same way, Mariah says, with Champa accusing her mom of cheating.

When they got home, Mariah watched out the window as Champa threw Jarvis against a tree.

On another night, according to police reports, Champa tailed Jarvis as she walked home with a young male co-worker. Champa hurtled from the darkness and tackled the man.

Neighbor Kelly Plaisted has lived beside Champa for some 20 years. She never saw anything resembling a controlling, stalking streak when he lived with the mother of his children. “But with Shannon, it’s just horrible.”

As the older woman sits in her house on summer evenings, she’s seen Champa slip into Jarvis’ yard to bang on her door, rattle the windows, and tear out her garden. Some nights he sits across the street and stares into Jarvis’ bedroom.

“I’ve been there many, many times when he’s just texting, texting, texting,” Plaisted says.

One night, as the women visited over a beer, she estimates that Champa texted Jarvis 200 times.

“That night he came banging on my windows. But [the police] can never find him. That’s what they say.”

Then there are days when Champa follows Jarvis to work.

Angie Griener, who runs a daycare near Jarvis’ summer camp, says she and Jarvis aren’t close friends, but they cross paths when they take their childcare kids to the park across the street.

One afternoon he drove past the park three times, circling the block and honking the horn, Griener says. Finally he parked with the engine running, hawkishly leering at Jarvis.

“He would just look out the window bug-eyed, stare at her,” she says. There was something daring, something obsessive about Champa’s stare that told Griener she needed to protect her daycare charges. She called the police.

“There’s no explanation for why he would be acting that way, unless there’s something wrong with him.”

The unshakable watch

At the start of their relationship, Jarvis freely forgave the simmer of Champa’s jealousy. A certain volatility was expected to accompany great passion. He always said he was sorry. She never believed he meant to hurt her.

But as the years progressed, and Champa’s outbursts grew increasingly violent, cutting contact proved nearly impossible.

If she avoids Champa for too long, too many things begin to happen, Jarvis says. He’ll smash a window, break into her house, threaten to get her fired from work. She has hundreds of harassing text messages archived in her phone.

In one text, Jarvis confronted Champa about sowing rumors around town that she was a meth addict. His reply: “Those things were wrong. I agree. But I can stop that. Be my girl and things will be better I promise.”

Read another: “I know when you got home how u got home and what happened. I was right there waiting… Saw u on bed in panties as u text me u weren’t home.”

On Facebook, Champa would attack Jarvis’ reputation, dogging her to get back together.

In April, he first begged her to “Give us this weekend together. Let’s just work it out,” before showing her the draft of a Facebook announcement accusing her of drinking before work.

He threatened to hit post unless Jarvis gave him another chance. When she held her ground, Champa published his smear. Jarvis responded by posting a screenshot of their preceding conversation. Others who saw the thread understood, and called on Champa to shut up and back down.

Then Champa went after Jarvis’ daughter.

“She is influenced by her mother who drinks and does meth and wants her kids to have no contact with their father,” he wrote of Mariah on Facebook.

The post ignited the ire of Heather Warren, Mariah’s stepmother, who dispelled it instantly. “She doesn’t stop the kids from having contact with their dad,” Warren shot back. “If she was a bad mom, why do we have the youngest for the summer?”

Undeterred by public censure, Champa’s relentless presence invariably builds such stress that Jarvis feels compelled to let him back into her life in small ways. When he tries to be nice, offering to buy dog food, gas, and detergent in return for use of her shower, she lets him.

It’s not that she needs the money, Jarvis says. It’s simply easier for her to know where Champa is, and his state of mind, than to constantly worry about every noise that comes through the night, every time the dogs stir.

Jarvis can’t move away, though her kids would pack in a heartbeat, she says. The problem is that she owes three more years on her house, which is under contract for deed. With nowhere else to live, no family, and no job beyond Chisholm, her house is the only place she feels safe.

Craig Champa, victim

Champa chuckles while denying he ever struck Jarvis. She’s the one who’s always instigated violence, he insists.

As he sees it, Jarvis is a man-hating false accuser addicted to the notion of herself as victim. She’d been physically abused as a child, Champa says, so she expends pent-up venom destroying the men in her life.

He stays because her pint-sized offenses rarely do any real harm. Mostly she just hurts his feelings, but that’s not to say she doesn’t pack a mean punch.

One night while they drove home together, Jarvis punched him square in the face for no particular reason, Champa recalls.

“But it ain’t always like that. It ain’t always bad. Just when she’s drinking. She’d had a severe drinking problem. It’s pretty funny.”

The one thing he has going for him are the townsfolk who know better than to buy her lies, Champa says. Including the cops.

Chisholm police have arrested Jarvis three times over the past four years for domestic assault and disorderly conduct. Each time, she asserted that Champa was the aggressor, and each time police discredited her claims, Champa says.

Within the same period, they’ve chosen to arrest him just once — after Jarvis’ son called 911 in a panic to say Champa was pushing his mother around. The officer didn’t believe the kid, Champa says, but cuffed him anyway with an apology: Since they’d already arrested Jarvis a bunch of times, it was just his “turn” to go to jail.

“I know all the cops by name. I’ve known ’em for many, many years,” Champa says. “You know sometimes I think they’re dipshits, but sometimes, you know, I think they weigh out the options.”

Policing stalkers, the Chisholm way

Chief Vern Manner refused repeated interview requests, but it’s clear Chisholm police don’t take Jarvis seriously. It’s also clear they’ve consistently deviated from Minnesota’s Peace Officer training guidelines when they failed to arrest Champa after Mariah saw him push Jarvis into a tree, after neighbors saw him circling her house and banging on her windows, after he attacked her friends and followed her to work.

There’s a recurring motif in the department’s many reports: If officers can’t find Champa at home, the cases are dropped, regardless of the severity. If they do find him, they’re usually resolved by telling the two to have “no more contact for the remainder of the night.”

It’s not exactly the textbook approach for long-term stalking. In fact, stalking seems not to interest Chisholm police at all. Officers have never taken the time to review Jarvis’ extensive file of abusive texts from Champa.

In one call last year, Officer William Purdy gave up trying to document Jarvis’ messages because the conversations were too long, the screen too cracked.

But while Champa seems to get the benefit of the doubt, police attitudes toward Jarvis appear uncommonly severe.

Jarvis’ first arrest came last year when Champa’s adult daughter said Jarvis was pointing a BB gun out of a neighbor’s house, yelling at her father.

En route to jail, Jarvis told the arresting officer that for about an hour before Champa’s daughter arrived, he had been pacing outside the home, daring her to come out. She finally stuck the unloaded BB gun out a window, screaming she just wanted to go home.

Jarvis was charged with disorderly conduct.

She was arrested again five months later after making three frenzied 911 calls in one night as Champa appeared at her windows, broke into her home, and sent her nonstop texts accusing her of sleeping with other men, she says.

After the first call, police told Champa to leave her alone. They weren’t able to find him after the second call. The third time, officers found him standing in his front yard.

Champa had a different story. He had just had sex with Jarvis when they began to argue about religion. He went for a walk. By the time he returned, Jarvis was on the phone with 911, trying to get him into trouble.

For evidence, Officer Katie Purdy took three screenshots of Champa’s phone.

They begin with a text from Jarvis: “I don’t want u in trouble but if u cannot control yourself u will be. I am sleeping and neighbors are watching you stock me. Please Craig stop. Your scaring me and walking around my house, slamming on my window, come on. It ain’t worth it. Craig, please stop. Please babe calm yourself. Stop drinking. Please!”

Yet Officer Katie Purdy arrested Jarvis instead of Champa, writing that the texts “clearly show Jarvis was the one to initiate contact” and that “she appeared to be the aggressor.”

Purdy declined to collect evidence from Jarvis’ phone showing that Champa had been texting her long before she responded, she says.

Last summer, Jarvis’ son Devin called police to say Champa had shoved his mother onto the couch, smashed her phone, and then run out of the house with her keys and money. Jarvis had a six-inch rug burn on her forearm to show for it.

But Champa claimed that she was the one who’d flown into a jealous rage when she discovered he’d been messaging other women on Facebook. Told that Devin had witnessed the whole thing, Champa changed his story. Everything happened so fast, he was unsure whether he’d actually attacked Jarvis or not.

But he did point out two small scratches on his hand.

“He was unsure when he got the marks on his hands,” according to Officer William Purdy’s police report. “Only that it occurred during the altercation with Jarvis.”

William Purdy did not assess these scratches for self-defense, nor did he attempt to determine the primary aggressor, as recommended by Minnesota police training guidelines written to prevent the unjust prosecution of victims who fight back. Instead, he and his partner arrested Jarvis for domestic assault.

“I literally dropped to my knees crying,” she recalls.

City Pages requested the audio recording of the investigation through the Data Practices Act. Chisholm police declined, saying they don’t have it because the recording was never downloaded into its records management system. Officers William and Katie Purdy also declined interview requests.

Jarvis says the cops’ unwillingness to investigate has only emboldened Champa, who continues to follow her around town and fill her phone with unwanted texts. She no longer calls police, at one point relying on a no-contact order to protect her.

That left police no choice but to arrest Champa after a group of Jarvis’ colleagues witnessed him follow them from Sidelines Bar to Snickers Pizza, before breaking into her house in the middle of the night.

Then Champa got a no-contact order too. Jarvis dropped hers within a month, afraid that Champa would simply follow her somewhere, call police, and accuse her of violating his.

As soon as Jarvis dropped her protective order, Champa dropped his as well. He’d had it just about one week.

Without help from law enforcement, Jarvis resorted to negotiating survival in her own way, using counter-intuitive tactics that confused and alienated her friends and neighbors.

To outsiders, Jarvis and Champa’s relationship looked unquestionably disturbing, yet also strangely resilient. Their mutual accusations of unbridled jealousy, violence, and alcoholism, their constant breaking up and making up, are a source of frustration for all. When old friends see Jarvis playing poker at Snickers bar with Champa and his friends, they wonder whether she seriously wants to leave him.

Heather Warren, stepmother to Jarvis’ children, has no doubt that Jarvis is an excellent mother. But Warren can’t understand why she maintains contact with Champa. Warren and her husband have decided they will step in only if harm comes to the children.

Jarvis’ next-door neighbor, Floyd Gorman, has had more than enough. He hasn’t witnessed the fighting, but he’s heard the screaming matches and he believes Jarvis shares responsibility for the violence in her life.

“Whenever there’s alcohol and them two, it’s like a match to gasoline,” Gorman said. “She gets a restraining order and then she cancels it and brings him back into the house. So I don’t know. You tell me.”

Blood in the woods

Two days before the Chisholm High reunion, Chuck Derry was sitting in Sportsman’s Last Chance, a tiny backwoods bar in Buyck. He’d planned a weekend getaway at his brother’s cabin.

Derry watched as a man came into the bar, clearly agitated. Loudly, as though he wished to be overheard, the man complained to other patrons about his girlfriend’s dynamite instability before heading back out.

Fifteen minutes later, Derry saw Jarvis staggering across the parking lot, her face streaked with blood. He guided her to a chair.

Jarvis told Derry that her boyfriend had slammed her to the ground before getting into his truck and attempting to run her over. Derry helped her relate her story to 911.

Derry, coincidentally, is a domestic violence expert who co-founded the Gender Violence Institute. For 33 years, he trained police and ran rehabilitative programs for batterers. He saw archetypical behavior in the way Champa entered the bar to make his case before a bloody Jarvis showed.

“I’m guessing that he was setting up the people in the bar, the bar owners, the bartenders, and others, to believe that she was the problem,” Derry says. “And this is not unusual. Men who batter are very cognizant of how they’re violent and how others will respond to that violence.”

He also noticed that Jarvis’ demeanor was consistent with the traumatic anguish of a woman abused. She was distraught, she couldn’t believe he had done this, and she was anxious that he would come inside the bar.

St. Louis County Sheriff’s Deputy Mathew Dincau arrived at Sportsman’s, having been told that a woman was waiting with a bleeding lip, a busted nose, and possibly broken fingers.

Champa preemptively flagged the deputy down, lamenting how his girlfriend suddenly “went off” on him.

According to an audio recording, Champa said the couple had been camping when he was called to work. Jarvis apparently spent the day at Sportsman’s.

When he arrived at 8, she began “freaking out,” Champa said on the tape recording.

The two climbed into his truck and headed for their campsite. Jarvis drove since Champa had lost his license for failure to pay child support. About a half-mile away, Jarvis again started “freaking out,” Champa said. She ordered him out of the truck. He began running back to Sportsman’s. She drunkenly ran after him, then wiped out, he claimed.

“And you didn’t touch her?” Dincau confirmed. “She tripped, fell on her face?”

“Yup.”

The deputy’s tone was friendly and reaffirming. He chuckled when Champa described looking back and finding Jarvis “on the fucking ground,” and joked about letting him take his breathalyzer results home as a souvenir when he blew perfect zeroes.

Champa claimed he helped Jarvis after she fell. But when Dincau asked if he noticed bleeding, Champa hesitated. He didn’t know. Dincau never asked how he might miss blood streaming from his girlfriend’s face.

Meanwhile, EMTs were treating Jarvis. Her blood pressure was high. They wanted to take her to the hospital. She refused; she didn’t have insurance.

Dincau asked Jarvis to blow into a tube. She registered 0.186, more than double the legal limit to drive.

“So, he’s sober, she’s hammered,” he muttered aloud.

Derry took Dincau aside and offered to describe what he’d seen. “You can tell by the scrapes that he shoved her into the ground.”

“You don’t think she could have tripped and fallen?” the deputy countered.

“No,” Derry answered emphatically. “Because I know enough about domestic violence.”

“You think alcohol is a factor?”

“Alcohol is never a factor in domestic violence,” Derry says on tape, sounding surprised. “He’s gonna try and tell you she’s drunk and fell down. Is that what he’s saying?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Dincau quickly deflected. “I haven’t talked to him yet.”

“She came up here and was very traumatized,” Derry went on. “And he’s up here, kind of pacing around, shaking his head. He knew better than to go in.”

Jarvis told the deputy that when Champa arrived at Sportsman’s, he accused her of picking up men. The argument continued in the truck. She pulled over to beg him to stop. “You can’t be mad at me, accusing me of fucking everybody all the time.”

They both got out. Then he chased her down, picked her up, and threw her on the ground, she claimed. He did it a second time. “And then he got into the vehicle and was going to run me over.... And I ran into the woods.”

“Is there a chance that maybe you tripped and fell?”

“Oh yeah, I tripped and fell,” Jarvis seethed, her voice breaking in heated sarcasm as she began to cry.

Though the deputy had taken Champa’s statement at face value, with Jarvis he was skeptical, interrogative, and adversarial. He asked her how Champa threw her down, how she landed, whether she blacked out.

Jarvis tried to explain that it wasn’t the first time jealousy brought out Champa’s rage. Just the day before, he’d driven by their Echo Lake campground to check on her when she’d wandered off to pick up rocks. When he found her, he yelled at her for not telling him where she’d gone and accused her of hooking up with some nearby camper, she claimed.

Deputy Brett Lucas had taken a police report, she started to say. Dincau cut her off.

“Do you realize that I’m gonna arrest him if you don’t tell me the truth?” he yelled at one point.

Jarvis began to scream hysterically. “I’m telling you! Look at me! Look at me! He does this all the time! And the Chisholm Police Department does nothing!”

Dincau asked Jarvis to repeat her version of the incident five times, but he was still confused. Did she trip, he asked again, or did Champa push her?

“No, he picked me up and threw me! And then he threw me again!”

Dincau walked away. He breathed a long, audible sigh of frustration, then shut off his recorder.
When he returned, Jarvis was sitting in the ambulance, blabbering tearfully to a medic that she stays with Champa because she’s stupid.

Dincau concluded the interview by asking the customary domestic assault risk questions. Yes, she fears he will kill her because of his uncontrollable jealousy and need to control her, she said. Yes, he abuses her both physically and emotionally. Yes, he intimidates and threatens her.

She offered to show him proof on her phone. Dincau wasn’t interested.

In the end, another deputy drove Jarvis home to Chisholm. Dincau gave Champa a ride back to his campsite.

“Through the course of the investigation, it appeared to me that Jarvis’ injuries were sustained from falling while running,” Dincau wrote in his report. “There was no solid evidence indicating Jarvis was assaulted by Champa, so an arrest was not made.”

The investigation reopened

Jarvis’ strategy of maintaining arm’s-length contact with Champa has a clinical term: “monitoring,” Derry explains.

It’s why many women return to their abusers. “People so often think, ‘Oh, she just has low self-esteem or she’s asking for it.’”

When Derry explains monitoring during police training, he gives officers an example they can understand. If someone you put away in prison is about to be released and you know they’re coming after you, they’ve threatened your family in the past, would you want to know where this person is, or would you wait to walk around the corner to see a gun to your head?

“And all the officers would say, ‘I wanna keep an eye on that guy,’” Derry says. “This is exactly what this woman is doing to protect herself. She’s monitoring him to determine what her risk levels are. This guy is being very successful in controlling her.”

That night at Sportsman’s, Derry watched Deputy Dincau drive away with Champa in the back seat and assumed he was headed to jail. He was shocked to learn that Dincau made no arrest.

On July 10, two days after the alleged assault in the woods of Buyck, Jarvis received a remorseful text from Champa.

“I already told everybody I threw u down... even my sister.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Champa incriminated himself in writing. But Jarvis never showed the text to the Sheriff’s Department, believing Dincau wouldn’t care.

When City Pages contacted the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department, it acknowledged contradictions between the audio and Dincau’s written report. The case was reopened.

On August 30, a different investigator paid Jarvis a visit. While an anxious Champa sat on the steps outside her house, Jarvis told the deputy that she had a collection of texts to prove his stalking. Derry has also been contacted.

Lieutenant Jason Akerson says the case will soon be referred to the county attorney for possible charges.

Meanwhile, Champa keeps telling Jarvis that a newspaper story will only make her look stupid, and that she’s an idiot for talking to a reporter, she says.

“And all I keep sticking to is maybe I am,” Jarvis says. “Maybe I am an idiot. But this is my story, and I’m not the only one living it.”

Jarvis is scared of what the townspeople will do, how her family will react. She doesn’t have an out, and fears that her children will be ostracized.

Still, talking feels like the right thing.

“If I wanna fix my life, I have to fix whatever it is that keeps me in this situation. Somewhere along the way I lost my ability to stand up for myself. I lost my dignity and self-respect. I see that now. My story’s gotta have a good ending. I’m working on that ending.”


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