Lori Gellatly did what she could to protect herself from her increasingly abusive husband, says the Hartford Courant. She went to police, who immediately secured a warrant for his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge. State caseworkers were aware of turmoil in the family. She and her mother — and Scott Gellatly’s ex-wife — all had sought secured temporary restraining orders against him. It wasn’t enough. Scott Gellatly, police say, showed up May 7, armed and alone, at the doorstep of his wife’s parents’ home. He broke in, fatally shooting Lori Gellatly and critically wounding his mother-in-law, Merry Jackson, police say. He was later arrested.
The case provides a tragic reminder that domestic-violence procedures and protocols, which have been reformed in fits and starts for more than 20 years, can fail to protect spouses from abusive partners bent on killing them. The head of the state’s largest domestic-violence organization said the events in Lori Gellatly’s household before she was killed amounted to a “cry for help” and required a more coordinated response from public agencies. “It’s a systems issue we’re talking about here,” said Karen Jarmoc of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “It’s critical we create a stronger systemic response to families that are impacted by domestic violence.” In this case, none of the restraining orders was served. Scott Gellatly fled the state in April, confounding any effort to serve him with the orders or an arrest warrant. Even if he had stayed in Connecticut, the temporary restraining order would not have compelled him to surrender his firearm immediately.