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"Educating our communities and elected officials about the needs of survivors in our local cities and towns requires year round focus. JDI is our pathway to informing and influencing the state and national agenda to end sexual and domestic violence." ~ Karen Cavanaugh, JDI board member and Executive Director of Womanshelter/Companeras, pictured here with a JDI delegation meeting with Congressman Niki Tsongas

No bail for Sutton man in girlfriend's death

SUTTON — Police say an argument Saturday left a Sutton woman dead and her boyfriend facing charges of manslaughter and domestic assault and battery.

Thomas O. Starefos, 49, of 30 Torrey Road was held without bail Monday after arraignment in Uxbridge District Court. He is to return to court for a dangerousness hearing Wednesday.

Mr. Starefos was arrested Saturday after police and fire personnel responded to a 911 call he made around 10:30 p.m.

When authorities arrived at the house, they found Colleen P. Butler, 60, who also lived there, lying in a puddle of blood on the kitchen floor.

Patrolman Ryan J. Montiverdi wrote that he saw severe trauma to the left side of Ms. Butler's face and what appeared to be a laceration on the left corner of her lip that spread several inches toward her cheek.

The kitchen was in disarray, with papers scattered over the floor and a shelving unit tipped over near the victim's head.

A paramedic pronounced Ms. Butler dead shortly after 11 p.m.

Mr. Starefos told police he had injured Ms. Butler.

Police said no weapon was used in the altercation, although a Remington Targetmaster rifle was found in the house.

According to court documents, Mr. Starefos told Sutton police he had returned home Saturday afternoon after spending time in Maine. He said Ms. Butler, who had a few glasses of wine, harassed him about not calling her while he was away. The couple went out to dinner in Millbury and upon their return home, the argument continued.

Mr. Starefos told Sutton police Ms. Butler began to attack him, punching him on the side of the face. He then punched her in the face and blacked out, remembering nothing, he said.

According to a report filed in court by state police detectives, who interviewed Mr. Starefos at the police station around midnight, Mr. Starefos went into a little more detail with them. He said he hit Ms. Butler in the face twice, knocking her to the ground. He hit her again in the face as she lay on the ground, he told the detectives.

Michael Hussey, Mr. Starefos's lawyer, said after the arraignment that Mr. Starefos "would not appear to be" dangerous.

"He seems extremely distressed and distraught at this time," Mr. Hussey said.

Mr. Starefos did not have a violent criminal record and no restraining order had been taken out against him.

Ms. Butler's adult children were present in court but did not speak to reporters. After the hearing, a man at the Torrey Road home referred reporters to lawyer Richard Rafferty.

Mr. Rafferty did not return a reporter's phone call for comment.

Across from the two-story clapboard home that Ms. Butler and Mr. Starefos shared in the Manchaug section of town, neighbor Donna Wiersma said she had known Ms. Butler, who was known as Kelly, for 35 years.

"She was a wonderful neighbor ... She was always bringing meals and vegetables from her garden," Ms. Wiersma said.

"We know that domestic violence is one of those crimes that is often unreported," said Laura Hennessey Martens, vice president of public relations for New Hope, an Attleboro-based nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and services for domestic violence victims at Uxbridge District Court and elsewhere in 54 communities.

Ms. Martens said victims might not report being abused because they don't know that what they're experiencing is domestic violence, they might not be aware that domestic violence support services are available 24/7, or they may be threatened by their partner.

"It's a very complex scenario," Ms. Martens said. Although she couldn't comment in particular on the Sutton case, she said in general, just because there isn't a reported history of violence, "it doesn't always mean that there isn't a history of violence going on in a relationship."

In a news release from New Hope and Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, New Hope Executive Director Kimberly Thomas said, "Unfortunately, Ms. Butler is the 15th victim of a domestic violence-related homicide in Massachusetts just since January."

She added: "Domestic violence homicides are often among the most predictable and preventable of crimes. It's important for domestic violence victims and the public to know that help is available and that domestic violence does not have to end in tragedy."

Jane Doe Inc. interim Executive Director Debra J. Robbin said in the statement that local domestic violence programs are available around the clock to offer free and confidential support and safety planning and to answer questions for victims, family members, friends and co-workers.

New Hope's 24-hour, toll-free hotline is (800) 323-HOPE (4673).

In Greater Worcester, YWCA of Central Massachusetts' Daybreak program provides domestic violence services and can be reached 24 hours a day at (508) 755-9030.

Contact Susan Spencer at susan.spencer@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanSpencerTG

 

http://www.telegram.com/article/20131202/NEWS/312029660/1116/mobile&TEMPLATE=MOBILE


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