NEWINGTON—When Mary Fletcher confronted Bruce Carrier yet again about his excessive drinking last year, her volatile live-in boyfriend responded the way he usually did when they argued: He hit her.
But this time he choked her until she was unconscious. And when she regained consciousness, he dragged her by the hair to a bedroom and tried to force her to put on a pair of handcuffs. When she refused, he hit her again. He placed one of her hands in the handcuffs, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to the basement, where he handcuffed her to a column.
Carrier left Fletcher there, handcuffed and suffering from a concussion, the rest of the night.
According to a 500-page state police report, that was one of a series of frightening incidents between the couple that finally prompted Fletcher, who never reported the incidents to local police, to take steps in late December 2004 to get Carrier removed from her Mountain View Drive home.
But it wasn't soon enough. Eight days after she had begun gathering the paperwork to apply for a restraining order against Carrier, he killed Newington Master Police Officer Peter Lavery after firing off a burst from an automatic weapon.
The report, released this week, is a detailed account of the investigation into the shooting and string of events on Dec. 30 and 31, 2004, that began with a domestic complaint when Fletcher's worried daughter, Ryan, called police, and ended with Lavery's killing and Carrier's apparent suicide.
Based on testimony from neighbors, and friends, the report also paints a grim picture of an abusive relationship between a controlling Carrier and a dependent and increasingly terrified Mary Fletcher.
At least six of Fletcher's neighbors who were interviewed as part of the report told police they regularly heard the two arguing. Several said they were afraid of Carrier, 45, calling him "scary,'' "an alcoholic'' and "unstable,'' and fearful of the rifles he had in the backyard.
At least one neighbor said Fletcher, 46, had privately shared her growing fear of Carrier, who was characterized as a "control freak'' and "an extremist.''
In one interview with police, Fletcher said that she had been trying to get him to move out but that he had threatened to mess up the house or burn in it down if she dared try. In the weeks before Lavery's death, Fletcher had asked her daughter to call daily "to make sure [Fletcher] was alive.''
The couple met in the mid-1990s and began dating in 1998 or 1999. Initially, the relationship seemed like a good one and the two moved in together in New Britain. However, Carrier's weapons and assault arrest in 1999 and subsequent employment problems triggered a deepening depression and increased drinking.
Carrier was arrested in 1999 after he sprayed Mace in the face of Ryan Fletcher - a teenager at the time - and Mary Fletcher after Mary hid one of his handguns because she didn't want them in her apartment.
When police responded to that domestic complaint, they found numerous rifles, handguns, a Tec-9 semiautomatic assault weapon with a silencer, boxes containing hundreds of bullets, explosive fireworks and 56 ammunition-feeding magazines. As a result of his conviction on weapons, assault and reckless endangerment charges, Carrier was forced to resign from his state Department of Correction job.
The couple split up because "it wasn't working out'' Fletcher told investigators, but soon reunited. Carrier moved in a month after Fletcher moved to Newington in 2000. She told police that at the time, "the relationship was great, as long as Carrier wasn't drinking.''
Carrier, who was now working a variety of carpentry, construction and other odd jobs, was arrested again on charges of motor vehicle and probation violations that resulted in jail stints in 2002 and 2003.
Fletcher told authorities that the two would have arguments that would become physical. In 2003, Fletcher tried charging Carrier $600 for rent in hopes the high payment would prompt him to move out. He paid the money and told Fletcher he would never leave.
Fletcher and family members told police that Carrier made Fletcher totally dependent on him. Carrier "created an environment in which Fletcher needed to ask him for assistance in performing the most menial of tasks,'' the report said.
As an example, Carrier would lock up all of his tool chests in the basement, so if she needed a screwdriver, she was forced to ask him for one, allowing him to dictate the situation and determine if he would help her or not.