Susan Hoke knew how to use a curtain rod to barricade a door - something she did on multiple doors in case her estranged husband, Scott Hoke, showed up.
She changed locks and security codes at her Jackson Township home, because she feared he would hurt her, her children said.
She told her 17-year-old daughter, who often went hunting, to keep a rifle in her room - just in case. Things were so bad that, more than once, her son, Robert Forry III, asked if she wanted Scott killed.
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"But she told me: We're going to let the system handle it,'' said Forry.
But the system failed Susan's trust.
Multiple times last summer, Susan Hoke turned to law enforcement and judges for protection against her husband. Police charged Scott Hoke with crimes. Judges ordered him to stay away from Susan and from the Jackson Township home where he once lived.
But Scott Hoke had access to at least one gun despite laws designed to keep people like him from having one. State law gives judges the power to have ordered his guns be seized, but family members say firearms were not taken from him.
On Sept. 12, Scott Hoke showed up at the Jackson Township home. Susan was getting ready to leave for work. Her 17-year-old daughter, Tiffany, was upstairs.
"I just heard this screaming, like I've never heard before,'' Tiffany said.
When police arrived, they found both 50-year-old Susan and 42-year-old Scott Hoke dead. A handgun was still in Scott Hoke's grip.
A York Daily Record/Sunday News review of the court processes leading up to their deaths shows holes in firearms laws and enforcement both in Pennsylvania and nationally. For instance:
-In a Northumberland County case, Scott Hoke pleaded guilty on Aug. 17, 2016, to a third-degree misdemeanor, based on allegations that he physically abused Susan. Both federal and state laws say people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence aren't allowed to possess firearms - although Pennsylvania laws give them 60 days to relinquish them, according to a Republican state senator who wants to shorten that time frame.
-Scott Hoke was placed on supervised probation for the criminal case in Northumberland County, where it's a standard condition of probation that people can't possess firearms.
-When a judge in York County approved a final protection-from-abuse order against Scott Hoke on Aug. 25, Scott was then covered by a federal firearms ban, according to multiple attorneys and law enforcement officials. But in Pennsylvania, judges aren't required to order someone to give up weapons, and they aren't required to order law enforcement or the sheriff's office to seize them.
Todd Spivak, a Pittsburgh area attorney whose firm has represented both sides in PFA cases, said Pennsylvania's firearms loopholes can make the situation worse for people seeking protection. People with final PFA orders against them might feel vindictive for being "dragged through this process,'' he said.
"The idea that a person in that situation would maintain the right to have firearms is a dangerous prospect,'' Spivak said.
'Tired of being treated this way all the time'
When one of Susan Hoke's daughters was pregnant a few years ago, Susan took her to doctor appointments. When that daughter, Kimberly Brown, was working, Susan would watch her young granddaughter.
That was typical. Susan's three children - 27-year-old Brown; 24-year-old Forry; and Tiffany Hoke, now 18 - said she was always there for them.
Tiffany was the only child Susan and Scott Hoke had together. In the summer when she was 17, her parents got into a fight that turned physical during a trip to a Northumberland County campground.
Susan said Scott pulled her by the hair, and later grabbed her by the head and tried to slam her into a picnic table. Scott was charged with simple assault. "I'm tired of being treated this way all the time,'' Susan told Scott, according to the criminal complaint. Susan also applied for a protection-from-abuse order in York County.
In the Northumberland case, Scott received a probation sentence after pleading guilty to a reduced charge on Aug. 17. Still, that charge was a misdemeanor - and people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are supposed to immediately give up their firearms, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Ari Freilich, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports increased gun relinquishment requirements, said the Northumberland conviction appears to be the "exact type of case that federal legislators ... had in mind when they were enacting the firearm prohibition.''
Northumberland sentencing documents show Scott Hoke was ordered to attend anger management classes, but the documents do not mention firearms restrictions.
It's a standard condition of probation that firearm possession is prohibited, said Brian Updegrove, a Northumberland County adult probation official. Probation employees generally tell people that others in their home can't keep guns there either, and they monitor the issue during home visits, Updegrove said.
He provided limited information on Scott Hoke's probation supervision, but he said typically that type of case would be transferred to the person's home county. But he said Scott Hoke died early in the process.
There is essentially a 30-day waiting period to transfer a case to another county if the sentence was decided by a district judge because of court requirements, according to Timothy Heitzman, chief probation officer in Northumberland County.
The York County Department of Probation Services has no record of receiving a transfer request from Northumberland County for Scott Hoke or of being involved with him, according to York County's court administrator, Paul Crouse.
'May be charged'
Susan Hoke described the Northumberland incident and other abuse in her July 18 protection-from-abuse request. By this time, the couple was effectively separated. She said Scott Hoke had, in the past, pushed, grabbed and hit her and was emotionally and mentally abusive.
Scott possessed a weapon or weapons, but he had not threatened her or minor children with them, Susan said in her PFA petition. Susan's children later said he had more than a dozen guns, and he had been interested in them for hunting, collecting and protection.
Susan did not request that a judge order firearms to be relinquished. But judges have the final say on that issue, according to Ellen Kramer, deputy director for program services at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Temporary PFA orders, which are designed to last until there's time for a hearing with both sides, were approved on July 18 and July 28. Neither judge asked about firearms during those proceedings, according to transcripts, and neither ordered Scott to give up guns.
Around this time, Susan's son moved into the Jackson Township home. He did it to help his mother with some bills, although she never asked for money, Forry said.
At about 7 a.m. on Aug. 9, Forry heard a noise at the front door, according to a criminal complaint.
Forry, who had recently finished a shift at an Utz facility, looked out a window and saw Scott Hoke outside the front door, he later testified. Forry walked upstairs to wake up Tiffany Hoke. When he went back downstairs, Scott was gone, Forry said.
Susan hadn't returned home from work yet, but Scott showing up at the house would still be a violation of the order. She spoke to Northern York County Regional Police.
Scott denied showing up at the home, but the officer charged him with violating the PFA order, a criminal offense.
State law says that after such an arrest, the police officer or sheriff shall seize all firearms, weapons and ammunition that were used or threatened to be used during the violation or during prior incidents of abuse. Guns weren't involved in the original allegations of abuse or the PFA violation.
But the law also calls for seizing "any other firearms in the defendant's possession'' after such an arrest.
In PFA violation cases, York County Sheriff Richard Keuerleber said decisions about seizures fall on the arresting agency.
The Northern York County Regional Police Department didn't seize any weapons from Scott Hoke after making the PFA violation arrest. Chief Mark Bentzel said his department interprets the phrase "in the defendant's possession'' to mean weapons people have with them at the time of arrest. But the department does not search homes looking for additional weapons if they were not involved in the abuse or the violation, he said.
Before a hearing about the temporary PFA violation could take place, Susan and Scott Hoke on Aug. 25 reached a three-year agreement for a final protection-from-abuse order that covered both Susan and Tiffany.
The order did not tell Scott to give up guns, although it did include standard language that warned him that if he possessed a firearm or ammunition while the order was in effect, he "may be charged with a federal offense.''
'Happy, for once'
There has been debate in some legal circles over whether formally agreeing to a final protective order without admitting guilt, which is what Scott Hoke did, causes you to fall under the federal ban. The debate centers on how narrowly you define a hearing.
But Freilich, the attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said Scott Hoke's case appears to meet key parts of the federal ban, including that he had an opportunity to participate in a hearing and that he was ordered not to use or threaten to use physical force against her.
The Pennsylvania State Police, which operates a background check system, considers all final PFA orders to fall under the federal ban, according to spokesman Ryan Tarkowski.
Samuel Gates, the attorney for Scott Hoke's PFA case, said it's rare for people with a final PFA order against them to face criminal charges just for illegally possessing a weapon.
In Scott Hoke's PFA case, firearms didn't come up as an issue, according to Gates.
"Mr. Hoke never threatened her with a gun,'' Gates said, adding, "That wasn't a fear that she raised.''
Kramer, with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Pennsylvania's system puts victims in a ``really uncomfortable and dangerous position'' because they have to tell the court whether they want guns seized. They have to worry about whether saying yes will mean they'll face retaliation from their abuser.
Susan Hoke's children said she didn't discuss many details of the PFA process with them, including the guns issue. But Brown said her mother probably didn't want "to piss him off more than he was already pissed.''
At a Sept. 2 hearing on the charge that Scott Hoke violated an earlier temporary PFA, Scott's parents said that on the morning in question, he arrived at their home, where he had been staying, at the usual time after work.
Scott Hoke could have faced up to six months in jail. But Judge Richard K. Renn found him not guilty of violating the temporary PFA. Renn said "maybe it's more likely than not'' Scott violated the temporary PFA, but he had "difficulty concluding that beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard.''
Susan Hoke had often asked her son if he thought Scott would show up again. Forry thought Scott would have to be an idiot to do so. If he did, they knew now to just take a picture of him and contact police.
"I don't think he's going to come back. ...I can't promise you he's not,'' Forry recalled telling his mother.
Susan still took precautions, her children said. She made plans to change her work shift, in part, so Scott wouldn't know her schedule.
But, overall, their mother seemed "happy, for once,'' Brown said.
Sept. 12: 'Told me he was going to kill me, too'
"He had the gun to my head, told me he was going to kill me, too, and that it was my fault because I wouldn't talk to him after we got the PFA.''
But 10 days after the hearing, Scott Hoke returned to Susan's Jackson Township neighborhood at night, his vehicle parked away from the house but close enough to see the area, Forry said. Scott went to the house and went inside, leaving no sign of forced entry, police said.
Forry believes Scott probably exploited a short window before his mother left for her late shift at Hanover Foods. Forry thinks his mother would have unlocked the front door and switched off the security alarm in order to let her dogs go outside, and not re-locked the door or reset the alarm until she left for the night.
Tiffany was in her room upstairs when Scott showed up. This is what she remembers:
She heard screaming. Her mother yelled for her to lock her door. Her father went upstairs and banged on her door, telling her to open it. She heard him go back downstairs.
Then she heard a gunshot.
Tiffany tried to escape out an upstairs window. Before she made it out, her father got through her door, grabbed her and told her to go downstairs to the kitchen.
She saw her mother, already dead.
Scott blamed his daughter for what he had done, then he threatened her, she said.
"He had the gun to my head, told me he was going to kill me, too, and that it was my fault because I wouldn't talk to him after we got the PFA,'' Tiffany said.
She tried to stall. Scott told her to call relatives to say goodbye. She told him her phone was upstairs.
When she went upstairs, she grabbed her rifle. But on her way back to Scott, she heard her father tell her to leave. Then he told her to leave her rifle inside.
As she was running across the street to a neighbor's home, she heard the second gunshot.
A November report from a research organization for the Pennsylvania General Assembly said the "biggest gap in Pennsylvania's PFA Act involves the relinquishment of weapons after a PFA order has been issued.''
The report made several recommendations, including that courts should have the authority to issue search and seizure orders for weapons as part of a PFA order.
The report also said lawmakers should encourage law enforcement officers to use active GPS monitoring of abusers to provide real-time notice to victims - something Brown thinks could have saved her mother.
"They would have seen that he was in the area and been on him,'' she said.
A proposal introduced last year in the state Senate would have required everyone with an active PFA order against them to relinquish firearms. The bill also would have given people convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence 24 hours to surrender their weapons, instead of 60 days.
On Jan. 3, state Sen. Tom Killion, R-Delaware County, told fellow lawmakers he planned to introduce similar legislation this session.
But action on those efforts doesn't appear imminent.
Gates, the PFA attorney for Scott Hoke, expressed skepticism about making changes based on the deaths of Susan and Scott, including the idea that all PFA orders should require people to give up their guns. Gates said it's common for defendants to be willing to agree to a final protective order but still want to keep firearms for hunting. He said you could end up penalizing a lot of people in cases where firearms would never be a problem.
"Of all the PFAs that are filed every year . what percentage of them end up like Scott Hoke?'' Gates said, later adding that the shootings came "out of left field. ...I think it's an aberration and an unfortunate one.''
In a phone interview in late December, Bentzel said he believed Scott Hoke used his own gun in the shootings, and Bentzel was "99 percent sure'' he didn't purchase the gun after a protection-from-abuse order. But he declined to provide additional details.
Brown and a brother of Scott Hoke said guns weren't seized before the Sept. 12 deaths. Gates said he wasn't aware of guns being seized, and that he believes he would have known if they had been.
Even if guns had been seized, Susan's children think Scott would have found a way to get one.
After Susan's death, Tiffany moved in with a friend's family, taking the family dogs. Forry eventually moved back into the home. It felt weird being there on his own, so Forry had a friend move in, and then got some cats. It was a temporary situation. In January, the family was making plans to get rid of the house.
On a cold Saturday morning in January, Susan Hoke's three children talked about their mother in the home where she died. Brown said it's easier to not talk about her death, but talking might help prevent this for another family.
"I'm not trying to place blame,'' Brown said. "I just want to make people aware. This could happen to anybody.''