From the age of 7, he was raised by foster parents.
That might explain why Chapdelaine would risk his liberty if he couldn't see his children. "He loved his kids. His daughter is devastated by this," Carl said.
But he seemed to settle down in the mid-1990s and earned a reputation as a reliable appliance delivery man, first at Sears, then at Bernie's.
Still, Spears said, when the polite, soft-spoken, hard-working man drank, he could get loud and nasty.
His troubles, his attorneys say, picked up in 2005 when he and his daughter's mother, Helen Ramirez, split up. At the time, he was living in a house in East Hartford, which he sold that October.
"Ramirez didn't want Chapdelaine to go to jail, but she wanted to be left alone," said Spears, who saw his client arrested four times over a five-month period, beginning in June.
At the time, he and Ramirez were battling in Superior Court over child support, with each party ordered to stay away from the other.
Chapdelaine found himself caught between violating a criminal restraining order and seeing his daughter. He chose the latter. Both he and Ramirez violated the "no contact" order when they met in the parking lot of the Food Bag in Wethersfield, where he picked up his daughter. When he returned the girl to her home, in April 2006, a Wethersfield police officer arrested him for violating the restraining order.
As Chapdelaine was being booked, his cellphone rang, according to the police officer's report. Ramirez was on the phone trying to arrange another visit for their daughter. Chapdelaine handed the phone to the officer, who warned Ramirez that the no-contact order also applied to her. She then became argumentative, telling the officer "when it came to her daughter she didn't care what the order said," according to the officer's report.
Last year Chapdelaine was facing prison when he met Hartford attorney William Horan, whom he had hired after firing Spears. He had violated his probation four times in Hartford and Wethersfield, and his cases were consolidated at Superior Court in New Britain.
"It didn't take much to get him violated [status]," Horan said. "I thought the cases themselves were pretty weak."
Horan negotiated a deal with prosecutors: 90 days in prison and three years of probation. Chapdelaine rejected that deal, fired Horan and returned to Spears.
Horan never saw Chapdelaine as a possible killer. He was the guy who politely fired him over the telephone. He said he had to read the newspaper story about his death three times because he couldn't believe it was the man he affectionately called "Chappy."
THE YOUNG WOMAN
After selling his East Hartford home, Chapdelaine moved to Bolton Street, where he began a relationship with Williams, the daughter of his neighbor, feisty and young enough to be his own daughter.
Unlike Ramirez, Williams hit back when Chapdelaine lashed out at her.
"He felt the girl was battling him, and he would get in trouble when he fought back," a source said.
They had been dating for five months in December 2006 when, during an argument, he threw a lit cigarette at Williams and she threw it back. "She became enraged. He became enraged and hit her in the face and neck," the police record says.
After that incident, Chapdelaine was convicted and sentenced in the criminal cases involving Ramirez.