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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:10 AM
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Default Heiress' suicide mirrors that of stepfather

15 years after he parked car and leaped off N.Y. bridge, she does same

Anne Morell Petrillo, in 1994, left a suicide note inside her BMW before leaping to her death.

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. - A family tragedy came eerily full circle in the waters of the Hudson River when the daughter of a newspaper heiress leapt to her death after parking her BMW on a busy bridge north of New York City.

The suicide came 15 years after the woman's stepfather killed her mother with a claw hammer, parked his own BMW on the same bridge at the same age — 38 — and ended his life in the same way.

The mother, Anne Scripps Douglas, and the daughter, Anne Morell Petrillo, were victims of the same crime, said Jeanine Pirro, who handled the case in 1994 as the Westchester County district attorney and who is now TV's "Judge Jeanine Pirro."

"When you commit a violent crime, people think it's over once the person is prosecuted or dies or the newspapers are done with the story," Pirro said Monday. "The truth is the effect of that crime lives on in the family and friends of the victim."

Police found the body of Petrillo, heiress to the Scripps newspaper fortune, Sunday in the river about 24 miles north of New York City. Her BMW had been found Thursday on the nearby Tappan Zee Bridge with a suicide note inside. The Rockland County medical examiner's office confirmed Monday that the body was Petrillo's.

Peter Goodrich, a family friend and lawyer, said Petrillo's two sisters were "mourning and terribly upset."

"They love their sister," he said.

'Daddy gave Mommy boo-boos'

Pirro's career as district attorney began with the sensational case; Scott Douglas attacked his wife in their Bronxville home on New Year's Eve 1993 and the crime came to light the next day, Pirro's first on the job.

"Little did I think that on my first day as district attorney I would be facing a case that would garner national attention because of the uniqueness — or so it seemed at the time — of domestic violence occurring in the upper-economic strata of families," Pirro said.

Douglas beat his 47-year-old wife into a coma, and she died six days later. The couple's 3-year-old daughter, Victoria, was in the house and saw either the attack or its aftermath.

"She kept saying, 'Daddy gave Mommy boo-boos,'" Pirro remembers.

Meanwhile, Scott Douglas' BMW was found on the Tappan Zee, but his body could not be found in the icy waters. Investigators suspected a fake suicide and launched a manhunt.

The little girl's two older stepsisters feared their father's return, and when his body washed up in the Bronx on March 30, 1994, Petrillo said, "We can get on with our lives."

Anne Scripps Douglas was the great-great-granddaughter of James Scripps, the founder of The Detroit News.

Because Anne Douglas had sought court protection from her husband several times and was turned away the last time because a judge was on vacation, the case produced changes in Family Court procedures.

"When the court realizes that a woman who came for help is murdered with a hammer within a week's time, they have to look at themselves and say, 'Why did we miss this one?'" Pirro said.

These days, if no Family Court judge is available when needed, the Criminal Court judge on 24-hour duty can sign an order of protection.

'A sadness all her life'
Petrillo and her sister Alexandra lost a custody case for Victoria and a lawsuit charging that the state failed to protect their mother. Petrillo was divorced or separated from her husband, and their son reportedly lived with his father. Petrillo's father died in 2005.

"According to family, she lived with a sadness all her life, and it culminated in the jump last week," Pirro said.

For Pirro, memories of the case linger strongly.

"I remember going to the house in Bronxville," Pirro said Monday. "I remember it was freezing, there was snow on the ground, but it was sunny, it was quiet. A murder had occurred and yet the sun was coming through the windows.

"I couldn't help but think of the horror, the screams, the blood. I remember thinking, 'The devil has been at this house.'"

The Associated Press

Big T

Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.

Old September 29th, 2009, 01:56 PM
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nismo972 nismo972 is offline

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Maybe she was looking for Hoffa......I know too soon

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