FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The mother of a boy who police say was killed by his father in an apparent murder-suicide Thursday night was afraid it would happen as far back as four years ago, according to an affidavit she wrote in support of a restraining order.
In 2013, the mother of Anthony Scaccia wrote in the document that she was having a dispute with William Scaccia over the custody of their then-2-year-old son.
“He made many implications that he would kill Anthony and himself,” she wrote. She quoted Scaccia as saying, “You don’t know the depths I will go to keep my son. You have not seen how evil I can be.”
The restraining order was granted at the time, but later expired.
Four years after that document was written, police say William Scaccia shot and killed 6-year-old Anthony in his East Street home and then turned the gun on himself. He spread gasoline around the home and lit a spark in an apparent attempt to burn the house down after the murder-suicide, police said.
The boy’s grandmother, the only other adult home at the time of the incident, woke up and put out the flames while calling 911, police said. A neighbor says she banged on his door, explaining that she couldn’t find her glasses and needed help getting to her grandson upstairs.
“There was no bringing him back,” said Richard Shain, the neighbor who said he entered the home and found Anthony’s body.
Police said a suicide note provided enough evidence to conclude that the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide.
The restraining order is just one example of a trail of possible warning signs including arrests and other contact with police, according to Foxboro Police Chief William Baker.
Baker said Scaccia had been arrested as recently as last Saturday, after allegedly assaulting someone in Foxboro. The following day, Baker says someone with a “domestic relationship” to Scaccia called police to report he had a gun.
Baker had denied Scaccia a pistol permit back in July because of his history of domestic abuse. Police confiscated the gun and charged Scaccia with illegal possession of a firearm.
Scaccia apparently obtained another gun by Thursday, when police said he committed the murder-suicide. Baker said investigators recovered the weapon and shell casings, and would conduct ballistics tests to try and determine the origin of the gun.
Police said Scaccia did not live at the East Street home, but they are still looking into what his current address was. There was not currently a restraining order in place between Scaccia and his son or his son’s mother.
Deb DeBare, an advocate with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the case reminds her of why the community needs to do better to hold abusers accountable.
“I get chills, because it’s unfortunately all too common when victims of domestic violence will tell us they see warning signs, and they know how dangerous these situations are,” DeBare said Friday night.
She said victims can work with trained domestic violence advocates to form a safety plan tailored to their situation in order to try and prevent domestic murder.
“Restraining orders in and of itself are not going to be a magic cure-all,” DeBare said. “It’s a tool in a toolbox… every single person’s situation is unique, but all these situations are potentially lethal.”
Chief Baker echoed those sentiments, insisting at a news conference that the system is not failing domestic violence victims, and encouraging them to come forward and continue to report abuse.
“I would resist the temptation to draw the conclusion that the system failed somehow or that restraining orders or legal processes associated with these sorts of cases are of no value,” Baker said. “I think they’re of great value.”