We all know those people, the ones who seem to get angry at the drop of a hat. The people who love to hate, who seem to take pleasure in their own rage. Though we do our best to remove such toxic behavior from our lives, it’s often difficult to see the forest for the trees and the warning signs are easy to overlook.
This story is a tale of love gone wrong and the extraordinary altruism of one intelligent, capable woman who at least one time in her life, should have gone with her first instinct to give her ex husband a wide berth…
Old Friends, New Romance
John and Suzanne had known each other for years, but it wasn’t until 2010, after they had both been married at least once, that they decided to tie the knot. They were old friends, in a new romance and at first, everything was absolutely golden. But the stress of their exes, kids, and their own personal businesses, began to build stress into the relationship, as did John’s legendary temper.
John’s temper had gotten him into trouble before, specifically while he was married to his first wife, Kim. The two had been living in Lebanon, New Hampshire, when they ran afoul of a man who had previously dated Kim. They had been driving along when John had spotted the egregious ex standing outside a fast food joint. As soon as the man saw John, he tried to leave, but it was too late…
John didn’t want to turn the other cheek, he wanted a fight. He chased after the man and damaged his car door trying to get him to open it. The other restaurant goers saw this and called the cops but no charges were ever filed. It seemed that Kim, despite seeing what her husband was doing, told the police that she hadn’t seen a thing. You see, she was just as afraid of her husband as her ex was.
Unbeknownst to anyone until after their eventual divorce was the fact that Kim suffered extreme emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband’s towering temper. Their neighbors had called the police more than once and officers arrived to find a missing husband and a bleeding Kim. She had even been hospitalized several times for those issues as well, and John was told to seek counseling…
John was arrested anyway and ordered to stay away from his wife, but repeatedly violated the order by returning to their home. He did curb his violence towards her somewhat, but was still extremely short-tempered. He was ordered to join a counseling program but the program didn’t do much of anything at all. It was John’s way or the ER and Kim wanted no part of it, in time, his second wife felt the same way as well.
Ticking Time Bomb
By the time John St. Angelo had met Suzanne, who was wife number three, he had calmed down somewhat. Unfortunately, he was still a ticking time bomb. It was only a matter of time before he lost control entirely and someone ended up more than hurt. It just so happened that this person would inevitably be the one woman who could seemingly hold her own against the rampaging Mr. St. Angelo…
As we discussed earlier, the St. Angelo’s happy times were quickly coming to a close. His business was floundering and the kids from the other marriages and his new wife’s were making things incredibly stressful. In an effort to get a fresh start, the newlyweds moved to the Dallas Fort Worth area in Texas, to be closer to Suzanne’s family.
Living Near Family
As it turned out, despite all outward excitement at the prospect of this “new start”, John St. Angelo wasn’t exactly thrilled to be living near his wife’s family. Most abusers like him try hard to keep their spouses separated from any sort of outward support system, especially family. Still, Suzanne’s business in the Fort Worth Real Estate market was thriving. This proved to be important, because his own business was bleeding money…
Gotta Keep em Separated
Suzanne’s personable attitude made her instantly likeable and her place nearby family helped embolden her much more than John’s other wives had ever been. The happier his wife was, the angrier and more bitter he became. Finally, his negative attitude proved too much to bear and the couple separated. Still, she wanted to make things work, so they continued to see one another.
They decided to take a trip to Mexico to see if they could respark things at all, but after an evening of drinking, John’s dark side emerged. He called Suzanne “a spoiled whore” and began punching her. He continued to threaten her by saying things like, “Where are your brothers now, bitch? No one can save you here.” When he was done, he strangled her until she passed out…
Don’t Just Leave
When Suzanne returned home, she immediately filed a protective order. She described how her husband, broke things, screamed, and threatened her. Soon their separation turned into a proper divorce. John St. Angelo was three for three. She left their house and didn’t come back and that was where things really started to go wrong, as any of John’s exes could attest: you don’t leave a man like John St. Angelo.
As she was moving out, St. Angelo ended up getting into an altercation with one of Suzanne’s brothers, the same brothers he had spoke of threateningly during their fight in Mexico. He hit her brother in the head and arm with the claw end of a hammer. The man had no choice but to defend himself, though as St. Angelo reported the incident to police later on, he only swung the hammer to “defend himself.” Eventually the truth came out and St. Angelo was arrested…
“Baby it’s Cold Outside…”
In time, Suzanne’s hate for her ex husband began to ebb slightly. She, like so many battered women before her, allowed St. Angelo back into her life. She tried to reconnect but when she went to his house to visit her on Christmas day, things turned ugly once more. He told her that she couldn’t leave until she returned all the jewelry he had given her. When she tried to run, he slapped her, beat her, and kept her in his house until she promised to return the items.
Help Him Out
St. Angelo was now completely strapped for cash financially and had resorted to working as a handyman. Despite everything, Suzanne still had a soft spot for him and asked her office manager to find work for him. St. Angelo was always good at construction, so she did find work for him, but allowing him back into her world had been a mistake and Suzanne soon learned that the hard way…
St. Angelo was a bipolar nightmare. He would send threatening emails and texts one minute, then lob apologies and favors the next. By the end of December, he had resorted to calling, texting, and sending threatening emails incessantly in order to get her to respond. She replied by telling him she was too busy and she’d talk to him the next day…her big mistake was telling him no.
That night, Suzanne called the police to report a possible prowler in her home. She had heard something outside and woken to find a window screen pried out and a fire smoldering by her pool. The fire had damaged property but hadn’t spread. Still, it could have been far worse given how close it was to the house. She told police that she was worried the culprit was St. Angelo and that he was furious because she had not only ignored him and that she had begun dating again…
The next day, he continued to send furious email after furious email, calling her a gold-digger and other such unpleasant epithets. She refused to meet him for drinks and persisted to date other men, which regardless of the fact that they were divorced, was a carnal sin in his mind. If John St. Angelo couldn’t have her, no one could. On December 30th, she agreed to meet him at her office so that she could pay him money for her car…which he said she owed him.
A Check for Him
Suzanne was exceptionally nervous about the rendezvous. She had a check for him, because he’d taken a pair of Suzanne’s glasses as “collateral” and when he came into her office and locked the door, things finally came to a head. Her staff heard her screaming and ran to her door but couldn’t get in. When they finally opened it, they found St. Angelo kneeling over Suzanne, stabbing her with a large butcher knife. They ran to her side and he ran off. It was too late, she was dead…
Tracked Him Down
Police lost track of John St. Angelo for some time, despite the occasional tip but eventually caught up with him at a standoff in which SWAT officers were called in. The five hour ordeal ended when angry officers, tired of being shot at, finally shot tear gas in through the windows and rushed the house. St, Angelo, determined not to be caught, shot himself in the face and managed only to knock out a tooth.
Punished Too Late
John St. Angelo lived to see his day in court and though he claimed to have killed Suzanne in self-defense, no one bought it. His history was clear enough evidence that this was the end that was coming. He was sentenced to life in prison, though it’s a scant comfort to those who tried to protect Suzanne. If only she had been able to keep away from him.