Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Abused Heiress - Anne Scripps Douglas


In the days after Anne's death, her family lashed out at authorities who had allowed Scott to remain in the home. Her 72-year-old mother told the press that "this could have been prevented. My daughter would be alive today if that judge hadn't let him stay there. I think it's criminal."

The family alleged that New Rochelle Family Court Judge Ingrid Braslow refused to grant an order barring Scott from the house in spite of assertions that he beat her and tried to shove her from a car. However, court documents show that these allegations relate to the 1991 case that was not before Braslow. The transcript of the December 6 hearing shows Braslow was not asked to remove Scott. The Scripps later filed an $11 million suit against the county.

Nearly three months passed before there was any break in the case. Authorities were still working on the assumption that Scott Douglas was alive when a railroad employee found his body downstream from where his car was left.

The corpse, in jeans with $507 in a pocket, was found by a Metro-North Railroad mechanic on a bank of the Hudson near the tracks that run along the shore. Pirro announced a positive identification by the New York City medical examiners office based on dental records.

The Scripps family greeted the news with relief.

"It was a surprise, but the nightmare is over," said Anne Devoy Morell.

"We don't have to worry about him coming after us or Tori," said Alexandra Scripps Morell.

Holly Marie Combs (left), Roxanne Hart, Sarah Chalke (right) in 'Our Mother's Murder.'
Holly Marie Combs (left), Roxanne
Hart, Sarah Chalke (right) in
'Our Mother's Murder.'
In 1997, a docudrama called Our Mothers Murder was filmed about the case, starring Roxanne Hart as Anne Scripps Douglas, Holly Marie Combs as Alexandra Morrell and Sarah Chalke as Annie Morell.

The Scripps family went on to rebuild their lives, the holidays forever marred by the violence of that New Year's Eve. Authorities re-examined "the system" which seemed to have failed Anne Douglas and made changes. The modifications in the way Westchester County dealt with domestic violence would prevent a similar occurrence from happening, authorities hoped.

The authorities were wrong and the circumstances that dashed their hopes were chillingly familiar.

In 1998, 19-year-old Hilda Uguna, fearing for her life, sought a protective order against her husband, a man who slept with a knife and threatened to kill her. But because her request in family court did not meet the precise legal criteria for an emergency order, her plea was rejected, and her case was postponed until October.

The delay proved deadly: five days after the emergency order was denied, her husband made good on his threats.

According to police reports, Luis Uguna, 27, a landscaper, stabbed his wife, a factory worker, many times in her chest and neck before stabbing himself twice in the chest and jumping to his death from the fourth-floor apartment where the Ecuadorian immigrant family lived. Two of their young children, an 8-month-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, saw the slaying, the police said.