Parents of woman killed by estranged husband question use of electronic ankle monitor

WEST FINLEY, Pa. — Sadness and anger are on the faces of Tierne Ewing’s parents two weeks after her murder.

The Kopkos are desperate for answers, like why their daughter’s estranged husband, Kevin, was free on bond after kidnapping and beating Tierne with a hammer this summer.

“Many days she told us she would wake up and he would be standing over top of her with a gun to her head,” said Annelle Kopko, Tierne’s mother. “Right here, pull the hammer back real slowly.”

Kevin Ewing walked out of jail in August after his mother posted his $100,000 bond. The District Attorney’s Office filed an emergency motion for a bail increase, explaining Kevin Ewing was a threat to Tierne.

Washington County Judge Gary Gilman refused to raise it, instead putting Kevin Ewing on the GPS ankle monitor. Ewing cut off his electronic ankle monitor and took her at gunpoint, police said.

“I will forever believe she knew she was dying in a very short time,” said Annelle Kopko.

Channel 11’s Cara uncovered documents showing the ankle monitor program was never intended for violent offenders, like Kevin Ewing, but instead of alcohol monitoring.

Washington County purchased the devices from Vigilnet in 2015. The company offers several different devices, including GPS monitoring, but all for under the umbrella of monitoring a defendant for alcohol.

Sapida tried to talk to the head of adult probation, the president judge and Vigilnet, but no calls were returned.

Bonnie Russell, of, has investigated domestic abuse cases for years. She said these devices give women a false sense of security.

“I would hope this would inspire the county to provide equal rights for women and eliminate this for assault victims, and go to real-time active GPS notification to the victim” Russell said.

The Kopkos recently found out from investigators that their daughter’s body was covered in bruises and she was half-naked when she was found. Officers said they heard her last words as they closed in on the barn where Kevin Ewing was holding her.

“She said, 'Why did you have to shoot me?'” said Richard Kopko. “It’s true. He shot her in the front of the head. It didn’t kill her. I believe he missed on purpose, so she would suffer.”

He was released after his mother posted his $100,000 bond.

The Kopkos spoke with Channel 11 in hopes their daughter’s death can bring change and give other women the strength to leave violent relationships.

“Get out, just get out and run for all you’re worth and believe you are worth saving,” said Annelle Kopko.