Exclusive: Bonnie Hohensee, 'It's never too late to leave an abusive marriage'
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Only on Fox 4, the ex-wife and daughter of Arthur Hohensee, share their story. Arthur had a violent shootout with police while taking his family hostage in their Gateway home on Wednesday.
The Hohensees were married for 53 years before it came to an unexpected end.
Until now, Bonnie has kept the violence she endured a secret. She's sharing her story, hoping other victims of domestic abuse get out before it's too late.
Thirteen years ago, Bonnie and Arthur Hohensee built a home on Lakeland Circle in Fort Myers.
"It was so pretty there," remembered Bonnie. "We actually had cows in the back up until recently."
Bonnie says at times they were happy.
"Of course there was a time when i loved him, so much!"
But when Arthur showed what she calls his "flip side", living with him became unbearable.
"He was somebody else at home then he was outside of the home," said Bonnie.
His rants are captured in webcam video she took of him last year. "I'll kill any mother*** that tries to *** with me," one of a number of threats made by Arthur in the video.
She described an attack after he was Baker Act-ed last year,"He was choking me one night and he was choking me from behind, by my own shirt," Bonnie said. "He had it twisted so tight that i was actually blacking out and falling forward,"
As one of many, "he was always violent toward me," added Bonnie.
"Why did you stay?" asked Fox 4 reporter Gabrielle Sarann. "I was afraid to leave, so afraid to leave," said Bonnie. "Look what happened when i left."
On May 10, Bonnie and Arthur's divorce became final. As court documents show, Bonnie was awarded his pension, social security and the house, after he failed to pay alimony and drained their savings.
"That was his big threat to me that he would burn the house down with me in it," explained Bonnie.
Twelve days later he tried. Last Wednesday, investigators say Arthur took Bonnie and their daughter, Susie Cordella, hostage.
"It was either we were going to die or we were going to live and i decided we were living," said Cordella.
After a shootout with police, detectives say Arthur set the house on fire then shot himself.
"Then we heard later that Art had taken his own life," said Bonnie. "He didn't have to. He could have just gotten divorced so easily."
"I was not going to let him control anymore," said Cordella.
Fifty-three years of living in fear is behind Bonnie, "We would hide in our bedrooms and wait til he was gone to come out and eat," she said.
If only, she says, she'd left Arthur sooner.
"Oh gosh, i wish i had left a long time ago, yes," said Bonnie. "I wish i would have had the courage to leave a long time ago."
And because Bonnie's house and car were destroyed in the fire, her attorney, Melissa Skeen, is trying to have the insurance cover as much as possible. But after Arthur cleared their savings, Bonnie doesn't have much to her name. Good friends and the church are helping her make ends meet.
If you'd like to help Bonnie, contact Skeen's law office, at (239) 337-1444.