Michael J. Fernandes, of Knowles Street in Pawtucket, is charged in the brutal murder of Jocelyn DoCouto, just weeks after being issued a No Contact order in a Rhode Island District Court. Ms. DoCouto, a successful entrepreneur, community activist & leader was shot & killed Friday January 19th, near her business, JaeSlayed Studio, at 440 Central Avenue, in Pawtucket.


Statement From Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence on the Murder of Jocelyn DoCouto:


We are devastated that this past Friday, a beloved Rhode Island community member, 33-year-old Jocelyn DoCouto, was shot and killed by her 34-year-old ex-boyfriend, Michael Fernandes, in a domestic violence homicide.

Jocelyn was a mother, a friend, a family member, and a Rhode Island resident who was well-known in the community as an entrepreneur and influencer. She was also a community leader and was at the forefront of legislative action to improve laws to make the braiding profession more equitable. Her legacy will live on forever. Day One Executive Director Peg Langhammer shared, “During this profoundly challenging time, our hearts are heavy with grief as we come to terms with the tragic loss of our esteemed staff member, Jocelyn. Jocelyn was not just a colleague but a beloved mentor to the youth of Rhode Island, providing invaluable support to those who have been victims or are at risk of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC).”

Domestic violence, as with sexual violence, can impact anyone in our communities. When such horrific violence takes the life of one of our community members, we work to uplift the ways that our state and communities could better protect victims and prevent these incidents. In this case, the perpetrator had a documented history of domestic violence. Earlier this month, he was arrested for breaking and entering, a dangerous stalking behavior. The perpetrator is being charged with multiple counts related to this weekend’s homicide, including possession of a high-capacity magazine – a deadly firearm that is now illegal in Rhode Island. A domestic violence perpetrator having access to a gun increases the risk that the victim will be killed by five times.

The time after a victim ends an abusive relationship is also one of the most dangerous periods. Perpetrators of domestic violence will often escalate their tactics of abuse as they start to lose control over the victim. Our state systems must do more to screen for these known lethality risk factors, such as access to firearms, stalking, estrangement, and prior domestic violence history. The courts, law enforcement, and prosecutors must do more to ensure domestic violence defendants surrender their firearms as early as possible in the proceedings. Strengthening our state systems in these ways can save lives. A specialized domestic violence court in Rhode Island could enhance and enforce these critical screenings and measures, with specially trained staff who understand the dynamics and dangers of domestic violence.

Our mission to end domestic abuse and break the cycle of violence calls on us to envision a world without domestic violence, and what it will take to create that world. We must empower our communities to lead. We must invest in vital community needs, such as safe, affordable housing. We must explore non-carceral forms of accountability, healing, and safety. We believe violence can be prevented before it starts, when our communities are supported, connected, equitable, and just.

If you or someone you care about needs support, please reach out to the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center (BVAC), available 24/7 for support, resources, and counseling. Contact the Helpline at 800-494-8100 and via the online chat at www.bvacri.org or call BVAC directly at 401-723-3057.

The Nonviolence Institute is another resource for community members in need of support: https://www.nonviolenceinstitute.org, call 401-785-2320, or email at info@nonviolenceinstitute.org.

For support in speaking with children about this violence and loss of life, visit this resource that provides information about how to talk about trauma and violence with children.  https://www.mainehealth.org/care-services/pediatric-care-child-health/adverse-childhood-experiences-trauma/talking-children-about-trauma

For more information about resources available for survivors of domestic violence and how you can help, visit our website at www.ricadv.org. If you or someone you know needs assistance, call the statewide confidential 24/7 RI Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100. The Helpline is also available via online chat at www.ricadv.org.


About BVAC: The Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center (BVAC) has been providing services to victims of domestic violence in the Blackstone Valley area for over three decades, and now offers services in Providence County and northern Rhode Island. It is their voices, their struggles, and their experiences, which guide our work. BVAC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence and to provide education and awareness on the issue of domestic violence. Visit www.bvacri.org for more information.


About Day One: Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island organized specifically to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern. Day One’s mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence and to support and advocate for those affected by it. We provide treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults. Additionally, we advocate for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases.

Our comprehensive services include:

  • 24-hour Helpline and legal advocacy
  • Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Adult Advocacy
  • Programs for victims of Human Trafficking
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Professional training and consultation
  • Prevention education workshops

From sexual assault on college campuses to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), Day One is addressing the issues that are affecting Rhode Island communities and leading the effort to provide real solutions for both victims and those at risk.

For more information, visit www.dayoneri.org.

About the RICADV: The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. The RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the domestic violence agencies in Rhode Island and to provide statewide leadership on the issue. The organization strives to create justice for victims and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island. The RICADV’s network of ten member agencies provides a wide array of services for victims, including emergency shelter, support groups, counseling services and assistance with the legal system. For more information about these organizations and services, call the statewide Helpline at 800-494-8100. And for more information about the RICADV, call us at 401-467-9940 or visit us online at www.ricadv.org.


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