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Tracy Smith and 48 Hours report on a special investigation into the rise of dating and breakup violence among adolescents in "Loved to Death" to be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
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Lauren Astley was a popular teenager from Wayland, Mass., looking ahead to starting at Elon University in the fall. Her ex-boyfriend was Nathaniel Fujita, a star football player with a football scholarship to Trinity College. They had a tumultuous relationship with a pattern of breaking up and getting back together. But as their senior year was ending, Lauren had broken it off for good. By all accounts, Nathaniel struggled coming to terms with the breakup. Nathaniel's mother was so worried about his post-breakup behavior she took him to a psychiatrist. Among Lauren's friends, their relationship was discussed on social media.
Lauren secretly visited Nathaniel to see how he was doing. The meeting proved fatal for Lauren.
In a short time, a life was lost and two families were shattered forever. Along the way, their names were added to the growing and startling statistics on dating and breakup violence. Researchers estimate that one in three young adults between the ages of 14 and 20 has experienced some form of dating violence. "Of teenagers who are in abusive relationships, 3% will tell an authority figure, 6% will tell a family member, but 75% will tell a friend - that's why we focus on kids," former Middlesex County, Mass., District Attorney Gerry Leone tells 48 HOURS.
Dating or breakup violence wasn't something anyone in either family considered until it was too late.
"I think with the final breakup she felt some relief, life was somehow opening up," Lauren's father, Malcolm Astley, tells 48 HOURS.
"In all of our talking about boys and drinking and drugs and driving and contraception, you name it, I never heard the term before - breakup violence," Lauren's mother, Mary Dunne tells 48 HOURS.
"It is a crime that has no zip code," reports Smith. "It's urban, suburban, and rural. A relationship ends and what happens is an emotional surge of uncontrollable anger. It can be verbal, physical and sometimes, as in the case of Lauren Astley, it can end in death."
Smith and 48 Hours report on Lauren's rollercoaster relationship with Nathaniel, their breakup, and what led up to her brutal murder, through interviews with their friends, police investigators, prosecutors, Nathaniel's uncle and Lauren's parents. The broadcast also provides critical information parents and young adults Need to Know about the warning signs of dating violence and how not to become a victim. The broadcast features several Massachusetts high school programs, including a dating violence awareness club and Mentors in Violence Prevention aimed at helping teens recognize the signs of a healthy and unhealthy dating relationship.
"After you have broken up with somebody, you don't go and see that person alone, ever," Mary Dunne says.
48 HOURS: "Loved to Death" is produced by Marcelena Spencer. Kathleen O'Connell is the development producer. Mead Stone and Bruce Spiegel are the producer editors. Claire Anderson is the field producer. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.