SUFFIELD—Scheinblum asked her when they planned to marry, but she misinterpreted the question: "Because I love him," she answered.
Assistant State's Attorney Christopher Parakilas, who prosecuted cases against DeMello, recalled that Bodnar "just couldn't say no" to DeMello. Most of the time, he said, "We were protecting Bodnar from herself."
Scheinblum released DeMello and continued the case until December 2004 with the condition that DeMello commit no act of violence or threaten Bodnar. But in December, DeMello was charged with third-degree assault on an elderly victim after police said he slapped Bodnar multiple times, leaving bruises on her chest, cheek and arm.
DeMello pleaded guilty to the charge under the Alford doctrine, which means he didn't admit guilt but conceded that the prosecution probably had enough evidence to convict him. In January 2005, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
While DeMello served his sentence, Bodnar was allowed to visit him 78 times in 2005. That year, she spent Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve with him, according to prison visitor logs.
Parakilas said all of the protective orders keeping the two apart were removed when DeMello was sent to prison.
Bodnar also visited DeMello 50 times in 2006. His mother visited him twice that year, according to the logs.
DeMello was granted a 16-day re-entry furlough by the parole board Oct. 11, 2006, and he was assigned to live with a friend, Davetta Curtis, according to Department of Correction records. That home was about 4 miles from where Bodnar lived.
Curtis declined to talk about DeMello, but she described Bodnar as "a good lady" who sometimes boarded her Siberian huskies at Curtis' dog kennel in Suffield.
"She was a good person. She had a garden, which she loved. And she loved her dogs," Curtis said. "How she ever got mixed up with [DeMello], I don't know."
Two weeks into his furlough, DeMello was found hiding in a makeshift cubby hole in Bodnar's home. Bodnar had placed a couch in front of the door to the cubby hole, according to a parole officer's report.
"The subject was extremely drunk and had admitted to `pounding vodka for a few days,"' DeMello's parole officer, Jeffrey Fernandes, said in his report. "Miss Bodnar had fresh bruises on her face but declined to comment on the origin of the bruises."
Fernandes described DeMello as "extremely unstable" and said he appeared to have no intention of abiding by the parole board's conditions.
"This officer believes that if the subject is [paroled again] he will in fact hurt someone," Fernandes wrote.
But on Jan. 8, 2007, the board granted DeMello another release -- this time on supervised parole. Under the conditions of his parole, he was to avoid contact with Bodnar and receive mental health treatment for domestic violence.
A little over a month into his release, he was again found at Bodnar's residence by his parole officer and returned to prison. Fernandes again reported fresh bruises on Bodnar's face.
In March, DeMello wrote a letter to the parole board, lamenting his return to prison.
"D.O.C. permitted us to see each other and be with each other at contact visits ... without any problems what-so-ever," he said. "Dept. of Parole is now part of the D.O.C. so why would I be stopped from being with my future wife after having contact with her for well over 2 years?"