Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Abused Heiress - Anne Scripps Douglas

Christmas

Anne and Scott's marriage limped through another couple of years in this drama of threats and fear before coming to a violent conclusion around Christmas 1993. The abuse reached a crescendo in late November and early December before Anne reached out for help.

By November Anne wanted out of the marriage. She approached her family lawyers, and a filing date was set for early 1994, the attorneys said. It is likely that Scott knew this was coming and he took action, hiring a law firm of his own and announcing he was seeking substantial alimony. Friends said Scott wanted a quarter-million dollars to leave the marriage, which Anne agreed to pay, provided it was done through a court-approved agreement. She told friends she was afraid of extortion, using Tory as the means.

In early December, discovering that Scott had removed important personal papers such as Tory's birth certificate and other records from the house, Anne sought a court order preventing him from harassing her and more importantly, from taking Tory from the house. She did not ask to have him removed from the home and the couple stayed under the same roof.

The situation was critical enough to prompt Anne to seek professional help from a domestic assault shelter, which urged her to leave the situation. She was obviously well-positioned to leave, but Anne was reluctant because moving out could be interpreted in the divorce as abandonment and would weaken her position. Leaving, she feared, would give Scott enough evidence to gain custody of the little girl.

"She was afraid of being beaten," said Deirdre Akerson of the Westchester Coalition for Family Justice. "She felt she was definitely in danger. She was concerned about finding a way to get him out of the house. I told her if she didn't feel safe at home, there were shelters. She didn't seem to think it was necessary."

Anne told family and friends she feared Scott, but she described emotional and verbal abuse until just before Christmas. Scott would berate her for gaining weight, he accused her of infidelity and once told her she had given him a sexually transmitted disease. His preferred method of abuse, she told acquaintances, was to awaken her in the early hours of the morning to yell and belittle her.

If she stayed she was in danger. If she fled, she could lose her daughter. A judge could not be found to order Scott's eviction.

"She was trapped," her brother told Newsday. "She was absolutely trapped."

The couple was planning to attend a Christmas Eve party, but instead Anne spent the night in a Bronxville emergency room after a blow from Scott scratched her cornea. She sent a note to a friend about missing the party: "We planned on decking the halls," she wrote. "Wouldn't you know I would get decked myself?"

"She said he pushed her down the stairs, had thrown her on the floor and kicked her," Gretchen Devlin told the press. "She said she put up her hands. She said, 'Take anything you want, but don't hurt me anymore. I can't take it anymore.' She said he had pulled her hair so hard she thought he was going to pull it right out of her head."

Anne told Devlin she was sleeping with a hammer beneath her bed for self-defense. Ultimately, her protection would come back to haunt her.

 

 

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