Anniversary of college student's death raises dating violence aw -, GA News Weather & Sports

Anniversary of college student's death raises dating violence awareness in Muscogee County


July 12th will be the one year anniversary since 21-year-old Columbus State University student Marylul Poupart's life was allegedly taken by a teenager.

Her body was found battered and bruised in the backyard of 15-year-old Gary Smith's Columbus home.

Authorities reported the junior Biology major died from strangulation.    

It happened on July12 of 2012.

During a preliminary hearing, investigators testified Columbus teenager Gary Smith Jr. admitted to arguing with Poupart and chocking her.

Investigators claimed Smith then dragged the victim's body to the backyard of his Sidney Drive home and left her there.

Smith's parents discovered Poupart's bruised and battered body while out on their back porch.

Smith is accused of then taking Poupart's car and selling the contents inside including her iPod, Iphone, and makeup.

According to statistics, Georgia is the number one state in the nation for teen dating violence.

According to a 2001 study, females ages 16 to 24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group.

Georgia is number one in the nation for teen dating violence.

News Leader 9 spoke with a local advocacy group that says it's important for parents to talk to their children about dating violence.

 "Less than half of family violence or domestic violence incidents are actually reported," said Hope Harbor Assistant Director Lindsey Reis.

Reis has dedicated her life to helping anyone affected by domestic violence.  As the teen dating age trickles to younger and younger adolescents, cases of mistreatment increase.

"The earlier the [violent] relationships start out, the more likely it is that will be your lifestyle," Reis said.

Reis said although it may be a difficult conversation, it's important for parents to start talking to their children about dating violence early.

"It needs to be where parents are okay when their kids come to them. The child needs to feel safe talking to them if something bad does happen."

Parents, you don't want to make the mistake of getting angry.

"You don't need to say, ‘I'm going to go kill him; or, I'm going to go kill her," Reis said. "You need to say, ‘well, what can we do about it? What can I do to help? That's not a healthy relationship."

The Journal of American Medical Associates report approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and or sexually abused by a partner.

Parents can help prevent their teens from becoming victims

"Let them know [that you believe] some things are going on, are you okay?  Be supportive. Listen to what they have to say," said Reis. "Never say, why [not] just break up, because it's never that simple."

Muskogee County ranks among the top counties in Georgia affected by domestic violence fatalities.

There are several warning signs your teen is involved in deadly dating:

  • Excessive jealousy.
  • Controlling behavior
  • Attempts to isolate you from friends and family.
  • Blames you when he or she treats you badly by telling you all of the ways you provoked him or her.
  • Has an explosive temper
  • Pressures you into sexual activity.
  • Refuses to let you to end the relationship.


If you are a victim of dating violence there's help available:

 24 HOUR Hope Harbor CRISIS LINE


You can get anonymous,confidential information and help.

 Go to www. for more resources. 

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