INDIANAPOLIS — “I just remember thinking he’s going to kill me,” recalled London Jones. “This is going to end with him killing me.”

In early January, London Jones, her baby and her parents heard loud popping noises. Large, orange flames filled their cars in their driveway in Marion County.

The 27-year-old nurse only woke up in time to escape because her date called to let her know his Johnson County driveway was on fire too.

Her ex-boyfriend and father of her baby, Elijah Houk, now faces arson charges in both counties, but no domestic violence charges have been filed yet. Jones said that is a problem.

“He was actually in South Carolina watching me through the baby camera,” she said, describing how she says Houk stalked her. “He was tracking me through the Ford pass. He had access to my Gmail, so he had access to whatever I was paying for.”

Jones watches home surveillance video of the arson now and sees her fears ignite in real-time. The new mom said after three explosive years together the couple broke up, which led to financial manipulation, harassment and stalking.

Jones said it all peaked when Houk learned she was dating again.

“There were red flags for me,” she explained. “This isn’t normal behavior.”

She reported it all, but as she soon learned that wasn’t always enough.

“The night that the fires happened – the police officer that responded – he was actually the same officer who came two nights previously to respond to the non-emergency call and he immediately apologized, and he said, ‘I’m sorry that there wasn’t more that we could have done‘,” Jones recounted.

Even after the arson, Jones said she found roadblocks in the justice system.

“At one point, we talked to an advocate, and they told us the fire didn’t meet the criteria for an emergency, to get an emergency protective order and at that point, I felt helpless,” the Indianapolis mother said. “I felt like there was nothing that was stopping him at that point.”

Today, Jones is fighting for survival; sadly, she’s one of many struggling with domestic violence of all sorts.

The Council on Criminal Justice found nationwide domestic violence rose by 8% during the COVID-19 pandemic when lockdowns added more abuser power dynamics and more isolation.

Even after peak pandemic years, there’s still an upward trend of domestic violence-related shootings in Marion County.

In the first few months this year, domestic violence shootings doubled from the average of the first few months from 2017 to 2022.

Danyette Smith is a survivor who said she understands the journey to safety and Jones’ frustration. She now leads the Indy Champions, a public safety agency streamlining the process and connecting survivors to local agencies.

It’s all an effort to make things as easy as possible, but Smith said she knows the system is complex and can have gaps.

“When we hear that an officer is coming to the scene we want to make sure that the community understands that they’re there to deescalate, get that report done so that that way those detectives can do the work and ultimately get it over to the prosecutor,” Smith said.

The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office could not comment on the ongoing arson case against Jones’ ex-boyfriend or her pursuit of a domestic violence charge. However, a special victims unit deputy prosecutor did sit with FOX59/CBS4 to have an overall discussion on domestic violence.

“Domestic violence really is a community issue,” MCPO Deputy Prosecutor Linda Major said. “It’s not just a family issue. It never has been.”

To prevent and protect, Major has convicted hundreds of abusers over more than two decades. She’s also helped expand the special victims division.

The deputy prosecutor said steps are there at every level to protect Hoosiers and successfully prosecute. However, Indiana residents like Jones have their doubts.

When asked if there was anything within Marion County that could make the process less challenging and less lengthy for survivors, Major answered:

“That’s a very difficult question because our dockets are so heavy with cases. So in answer to your question, ‘Are there things that can sort of expedite the resolution of the case?’ I would absolutely say that if we are able to get to a point where that case can be resolved by a plea agreement, then that would be something that could expedite the case.”

Linda Major, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office

Major said prosecutors consider both defendant accountability and victim safety before offering those plea deals. They consult with the victims first, but even if cases plead out, COVID-19 has caused a nationwide backlog.

Major said there are up to 40 cases on a Marion County criminal court’s docket on any given day. For someone like Jones, none of this helps since her domestic violence claims remain in limbo.

For cases that are filed, FOX59/CBS4 asked what could change the system or better support survivors. Major said more money.

“We would absolutely love to have additional deputy prosecutors in the system,” she said. “We’d love to have additional advocates in the system.”

About 7% of the Marion County budget is going to the prosecutor’s office in 2023. In total, it’ll receive nearly $31 million, 1% more than in 2022.

With more funding for more staff, Major said she believes even more could get done, which is all Jones said she wants.

The new mom said she wants more chances to see past today and live for tomorrow.

“I just pray that justice is served and that my daughter is safe from this point, I’m safe, my family is safe,” Jones said. “And that we never have to go through something like this again.”

For anyone experiencing any form of domestic violence, officials urge you to immediately call 911 if you’re in danger. You can also find resources at the following: