On Friday, 51-year-old Lisa Dawn Fuillerat and her estranged husband, 53-year-old Vincente Fuillerat, were due in a Polk County, Florida courtroom to address the dissolution of marriage Lisa had filed for on October 21st, 2015, which also requested Vincente sell their shared home and provide alimony. But neither Lisa or Vincente showed up for their scheduled hearing, because Vincente had killed them both.
Wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with a shotgun, Vincente had broken into the home of 39-year-old Samara Routenberg, Lisa’s girlfriend, that morning. A shootout ensued in which he killed both women before turning the gun on himself. According to his former Attorney Ralph Fernandez, Vincente “just couldn’t handle seeing the mother of his two children in a relationship with another woman after 28 years of marriage.” Fernandez added that Vincente “felt the relationship was immoral.”
Both Lisa and Samara were beloved faculty members of Lake Gibson Middle School, where Samara served as Assistant Principal and Lisa taught math. On Monday, students at the middle school and Lake Gibson High School next door left flowers, balloons and cards at a makeshift memorial, and shared memories of the two women. “[Lisa] helped me through a lot when I first started school and was really struggling,” freshman Nichole Alfonso, 16, told The Tampa-Bay Times.
An old family friend told ABC Action News, “I was listening to the news and I heard the name Samara Routenberg and I just couldn’t believe that something like this could happen to such a sweet girl and a grown woman.”
The Principal of Lake Gibson Middle School released this statement:
“The deaths of Samara and Lisa have left us absolutely devastated. A school is like a large extended family. Samara and Lisa were loving members of the Lake Gibson Middle family. They were committed to helping students grow in knowledge and character. Samara was an assistant principal who was hardworking and very intelligent. She oversaw the guidance department. She was kind and caring to students and fellow colleagues. Lisa was a skilled teacher who would find ways to help her students struggling to understand complex mathematical problems. She was incredible in the classroom. Her students loved her very much, and her passion for education was obvious to anyone who knew her. They will be greatly missed, and we pray for their loved ones.”
Lisa and Vincente had known each other as kids and had been married for 28 years. They had two (now adult) children together. The couple separated in 2014, and eventually Lisa moved in with Samara. Of Lisa’s relationship with Samara, Vincente told Fernandez, “I can’t compete with that.”
This wasn’t the first time Vincente had unleashed his violent homophobic misogynistic abusive rage upon the couple. On October 2, 2015, Vincente went to Routenberg’s house, breaking in through the garage door and striking her with an “unknown blunt object.” He then proceeded to hit her and slam her into the driveway. Three days after the attack, Routenberg filed a petition for a protective order, writing, “I am scared he is going to come back to my house & kill me. The only reason he stopped was because my neighbor came over. … He knows where I live & work.” Vincente’s attorney claimed that Routenberg’s account of the attack was a “gross over-characterization,” and his client got off with 36 months of probation and $6,000 in restitution for medical bills. He was also told to stay away from the women.
Vincente was still under that protective order and still on probation when he murdered them both.
He should have been in jail.
Unfortunately, this is far from the first time a man has killed or attacked his ex due to jealousy over a lesbian relationship, even within the last decade. In Brooklyn, in 2009, 23-year-old Jeanette Martinez was shot in the head and killed by her angry ex-boyfriend, who then proceeded to chase Martinez’s 19-year-old girlfriend across five lanes of traffic, shooting her after she was hit by an SUV. In Kansas, also in 2009, 44-year-old Karen Kahler ended up falling for a woman her husband had recruited for a threesome, and subsequently filed for divorce. He reacted by murdering Karen as well as their two teenage daughters and his wife’s grandmother. In Oregon, in 2013, Precious Jackson was shot and killed by a friend of her girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend who had been enlisted by the ex-boyfriend to carry out the killing because “he was furious.” Just last year in New York, 22-year-old Toni Cox was stabbed to death by her girlfriend’s jealous ex- husband.
“They were both afraid something like this might transpire,” Melissa A. Wilson, the attorney who represented the couple in their assault case, told 10 news. “It was clear throughout the process that Mr. Fuillerat was having difficulty accepting the separation and divorce proceedings.”
They kept handguns for protection, but Vincente seemed to have anticipated this when he chose to wear a bulletproof vest, and none of their defensive shots were fatal.
Fernandez, who dropped Vincente as a client in the divorce proceedings when he refused to submit required financial disclosures, told The Tampa-Bay Times that he thinks Vincente may have “felt emboldened” by “a climate of intolerance in the country,” theorizing, “I think in his effected state over the painful separation, he felt there was support for not allowing this kind of behavior to go on.”
At Lake Gibson Middle School and High School, all tests were cancelled for Monday, and most classes devoted their time to sharing stories about Samara and Lisa.
Absolutely horrifying. My heart goes out to the family, friends, and children who knew these women.
“…he felt there was support for not allowing this kind of behavior to go on.” Jesus, we still have so much work to do.
Thank you for covering this, Riese. Haven’t heard about this anywhere else.
When will the courts start valuing women and our protection?!
The first thing I thought was, “I bet he’ll get off”. Only because he’s dead is that not happening.
I wish solace to their families and communities, and a wrath of fury on everyone else who let this happen.
He already got off…probation & paying her medical fees…the justice system for the protection of domestic violence is a joke.
I’m so sad and angry. Mostly angry.
I’m sick to my stomach and furious.
I know this isn’t how the justice system works and it probably shouldn’t actually work this way, but I really wish his attorney and the judge from the assault case could be charged as accomplices.
I’m happy the students were exposed to a positive lesbian relationship and are encouraged to mourn.
Men are just…. I don’t even have words. America is having an epidemic, our men are too priveledged, they are not taught, and their are not enough consequences.
On another hand this is why I’m so afraid to come out. I’ve been in too many abusive relationships and I can see this happening to me. I feel like there is a stone on my throat choaking me right now. I’m not able to be myself.
Thank you for covering this. I wish the best to their families and their students.
Right there with you.
Saw this on the local news. Thanks for the article, my heart really breaks for all of them.
This makes me so sad and so furious. I’m on the verge of tears, I’m so tired of women literally telling the authorities “he is going to kill me”, not being heard, and then being killed.
wait a minute, how the hell was this guy to have a gun in the first place. Its against the law for a domestic attack suspect to have a gun.
Because local police departments aren’t always aware that that they’re supposed to enforce the seizure of firearms from a DV offender.
It’s supposed be their responsibility and judge can demand a surrend of firearms as well, not that fucking do it often.
It’s not loophole of the Lautenburg Amendent or anything.
Oh god this is not emotionally helpful at all, but these are facts that should have a big giant spotlight on them.
Sorry if anyone feels even worse after reading this.
Like the law ever stopped anyone from having a weapon…
Law stops plenty of people.
People still murder? Well no need to outlaw it.
People still steal cars? Eh, look anyone can steal a car these days.
People want a gun? Unless they are able to actually go out and make the connections to get an illegal weapon, yeah, it would stop them.
I mean, unless they just subvert the law, go to a gun show, go online… so the ability to commit a crime negates the reason for law?
Does it stop everyone? Nope.
But it may have stopped him.
You will not they had guns too, and it didnt do shit.
If he came in that house with a knife, bat etc against two grown women?
Better odds he becomes dogfood. Not great, but better.
White Patriarchy: Where a black man receives a death sentence for maybe shoplifting tobacco products while a white man receives probation for attempting to murder two women.
“same sex relationship” would seem more inclusive a description. Did both identify as lesbian? Stats around bisexual violence are extremely high and bierasure helps no one.
Two women are dead and we’re seriously going to nitpick over the language of the article? *rolls eyes*
Times of horrific tragedy is exactly when language matters the most. In this case it’s inherently applicable. Biphobia was the root of the crime
We don’t know what their orientation is, and imo, it’s highly inappropriate to use a tragedy to debate bisexual visibility.
“Vincente’s attorney claimed that Routenberg’s account of the attack was a “gross over-characterization,” and his client got off with 36 months of probation and $6,000 in restitution for medical bills. ”
If it leaves six grand in medical bills its not over characterised.
Fuck straight men.
But I don’t waaaant to.
Which was apparently the problem here.
straight men can fuck off though.
Thank you, autostraddle, for all that you do but especially for covering this horrifying heartbreaking act with such care. I was not prepared for how horrible the language in the linked articles would be.
I’m holding these women, their families, and all of the young lgbt women in current or past abusive relationships with men, afraid to come out, in the light.
I cried after reading the comments. This is my community and I wrongly thought that we were making some progress.
Heartbreaking. I want to echo Erin: thank you for covering this so thoughtfully.
ugh, so maddening! and so so sad
This is so horrifying. I hate that things in this country seem to just keep getting worse and the permissiveness towards evil continues to impact the queer community and other vulnerable communities. We are only a month and ah half in to this presidency. How will we get through 4 years of this?
Is there more information about a history of domestic violence?
I am a teacher in this school district and while most reactions to this horrific crime were normal, there were many vile and hateful comments made under the articles in our local paper. They said they shouldn’t be educators, that they drove him to it, that they reaped what they had sown because they were lesbians. It hurts, a lot. They were both incredible educators who impacted the lives of so many kids. My girlfriend wonders why I am so paranoid, I showed her the comments and said this is why.
I’m born and raised in Lakeland with all my family still there and my mama used to teach at Lake Gibson. Sending everyone love and remembering how scary it was to come out in Polk County as a 16 year old.
My deepest condolences for the community and family lost.