Eight months ago, well into the second year of a contentious divorce, Donna Bochicchio penned a note on a small piece of paper:
"I know he's going to kill me," her brother, Karl Seitz, said she wrote. "I just don't know when."
In the days after Michael L. Bochicchio shot and killed his estranged wife last Wednesday in a parking lot near Superior Court in Middletown, some have wondered why the retired state trooper snapped, saying the bloody attack on Donna Bochicchio and her lawyer, Julie Porzio, was out of character.
But family and friends are now learning that months before her death, Donna Bochicchio feared the simmering anger growing between them would explode in violence. After killing his wife, Bochicchio, 47, of Torrington, shot and killed himself.
"We all knew she was fearful," said Greg Gaudet, her boss at NI Design in Farmington, where Donna, 42, worked as a receptionist. "We never thought this would happen."
In an interview, members of Donna Bochicchio's family recalled a kind and giving woman who -- though increasingly fearful of her husband -- did not want to burden her family with the toll the divorce was taking.
Seitz, Bochicchio's oldest brother, said he found the telltale note about her fears while going through his sister's personal effects after her death. He has turned it over to Middletown police, who continue to investigate the murder-suicide.
Seitz said that he wishes he'd known the depth of his sister's fear earlier.
"When she was here, she was trying to do the best she could and didn't want to lay it on us," he said.
She did, however, confide in her niece, Heidi Barker, and a few close friends about her growing fear that her husband -- whom they described as controlling and possessive -- might try to kill her.
For many years, the Bochicchio's marriage looked strong from the outside. But Barker said it was less than perfect. She said Bochicchio told her that over time, Michael Bochicchio became increasingly hostile, making comments about his wife's appearance and struggles with her weight.
"He was just really controlling and he got really nasty," Barker said. "He was just killing her spirit."
During the first year of their divorce proceedings, the Bochicchios continued to live together in their house in Harwinton -- Michael downstairs, Donna upstairs. A judge last year ordered Michael Bochicchio out of the house.
When asked to respond to word of Donna Bochicchio fears, Bruce Bochicchio, Michael's brother, said he preferred to focus on the future.
"Donna was a beautiful person, and she was my sister-in-law and I loved her," he said. "The challenge now is for all three victim families to work together for the benefit of [their two] children -- to do something they weren't able to do before."
The divorce case went on for more than two years.
He was trying to wear her down and she was too strong for that," said Kathryn Kimball, a co-worker at NI Design. "Maybe that's why he resorted to something like this. He knew she was stronger than him."
The day before the shooting, Elise Irish, a co-worker and friend, said Bochicchio told her about a particularly upsetting encounter with Michael Bochicchio. One day after court recessed, Donna Bochicchio and Porzio saw Michael Bochicchio waiting in the parking lot.