‘Melissa’s Law’ Looks to Tighten Restraining Order Rules

The family of Melissa Dohme, who was brutally attacked by her ex-boyfriend, are hoping a petition they started to tighten protections against domestic violence offenders becomes law.

Her name is Melissa Danielle Dohme. She goes by Lis or Lissy. She loves the beach and country music. She is a straight ‘A’ student and attends Skycrest Baptist Church on Sundays.

And she is recovering well after being brutally attacked and stabbed more than 17 times by her ex-boyfriend about a month ago near Crest Lake Park. Her family created a petition for "Melissa's Law" after the incident to tighten protections against domestic violence offenders.

“We keep calling her the miracle child,” her sister Michelle said.

Michelle calls it a relationship gone bad.

Melissa met Robert L. Burton in high school through mutual friends. He was a grade ahead of her at Clearwater High, Michelle said.

They dated for nearly two years until a fight in October. That is when Burton was arrested and charged with domestic battery.

Shortly after, Melissa initiated paperwork for a restraining order. However, a temporary injunction she filed for protection was dismissed when she did not appear at a hearing for it in November, according to court records.

Melissa said her sister did have a restraining order against Burton.

“She wanted the restraining order against him, but she wanted the charges dropped,” Michelle said. “She thought he could better himself by dropping the charges.”

About a month later, Burton was arrested and charged with battery Dec. 26, 2011, according to Pinellas County Sheriff's records.

Then less than a month later, Burton attacked Melissa, stabbing her more than 17 times in the head and neck, leaving her in a bloodied mess near the house she grew up in near Crest Lake Park.

“We never thought it would come to this,” Michelle said.

Burton ran off after two witnesses tried to intervene. He was later found in Pasco County after overdosing on medication and crashing his vehicle.

Melissa was taken by Bayflite to Bayfront Medical Center where doctors worked to save her life.

She died four times in the hospital. In about a month’s time she has healed, the bleeding inside her ear, where she was stabbed, has stopped. While half of her face is paralyzed, somehow she still can see through both eyes.

“She is progressing wonderfully in therapy,” Michelle said. “Time will heal her injuries.”

The incident has fueled an initiative to tighten the oversight on domestic violence offenders who have restraining orders against them.

Michelle created the online petition for “Melissa’s Law” which already has more than 5,100 signatures.

The law asks for stronger penalties, a warning system for victims and a monitoring system for violent domestic attackers and stalkers who have restraining orders against them.

Just this week Melissa started going back to classes at St. Petersburg College, this is her final semester before she earns her associates degree. She took a humanities exam.

Dohme worked full time at Bay Care’s Women’s Hospital at Morton Plant Hospital and she planned to become a nurse. Those plans could be on hold as she figures out her options and what schools she can attend, Michelle said.

“We don’t know about care and her independent abilities,” Michelle said.

Two benefits are planned in her honor Saturday.

“Stand up for Melissa” features a dinner and live music from 4 to 11 p.m. at the American Legion Post 7. A concert is planned from 7 to 11:30 p.m. at Neptune Lounge, 13 S Safford Ave in Tarpon Springs.

Donations will be accepted through the "Foundation Benefit Fund for Melissa Dohme" set up at Wells Fargo bank.

Keep up on the her progress and find out more through the Support Melissa Facebook page.

If you go:
What: “Stand up for Melissa Dohme”
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: American Legion Post 7, 1760 Turner St.


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