Husband charged with murder of wife in Bolton
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont man has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the shooting death of his wife in Bolton over the weekend.
Joseph Ferlazzo, 41, was arraigned virtually at the Burlington courthouse Wednesday morning, the day after police say he admitted to killing his wife, 22-year-old Emily Ferlazzo of Northfield, New Hampshire.
“The allegation is that Mr. Ferlazzo got into an argument with his wife and shot her, killing her in Bolton,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George.
The couple left New Hampshire Friday to spend their one-year wedding anniversary in Vermont. Authorities say he returned to Emily’s parent’s property on Monday without her. “They left New Hampshire that Friday the 15th and that he returned on the 19th without her and that’s when they called the police,” George said.
Ferlazzo originally told Emily’s parents that the two got into an argument in Bolton and she walked away from the van. But according to court documents, he confessed to police that he actually suggested the two lay down after the argument and that’s when he grabbed a Glock from the cabinet, got on top of Emily, and shot her twice. Ferlazzo told police he dismembered her body, leaving her in the bathroom of the camper. He then left the camper outside a friend’s house on Meadowbrook Lane in St Albans.
George says it’s not clear why Ferlazzo had the gun in the camper. “There’s a lot of people who possess a firearm without ill intent. I do not know what his intention on bringing it was -- if he always had it in the van or if he brought it specifically for this,” she said.
Authorities say Ferlazzo returned to Vermont Monday or Tuesday -- this time in a Jeep Wrangler. Court documents say he confessed to killing his wife to a friend and that the friend called the police. Police spotted Ferlazzo Tuesday in the St. Albans Maplefields and convinced him to return to the state police barracks. That’s where they say he confessed.
Police confirm Ferlazzo was a tattoo artist in Vermont, with a customer base in Chittenden and Franklin Counties. Most recently, the couple was living in the van on her parent’s property in New Hampshire.
Ferlazzo was ordered held without bail pending his next hearing.
EXPERTS SAY PHYSICAL ABUSE OFTEN FIRST SIGN IN DOMESTIC MURDER CASES
The Vermont murder case comes as Florida police continue their investigation into the high-profile homicide of Gabby Petito and experts say the parallels between the two deaths are all too clear -- each couple had a history, however discreet, of physical abuse.
“We’ve been following this closely, the situation closely since Monday, and of course our worst fears have been realized now,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, executive director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. she says when she heard Emily Ferlazzo was reported missing Monday, the dread her team felt was all too familiar. “We ask ourselves, what could we be doing differently?”
Tronsgard-Scott says domestic violence is incredibly prevalent in what otherwise is considered a safe state. At least half of all Vermont’s homicides are domestic-violence related. Each year the number fluctuates but the ratio stays the same. Of those homicides, 50% percent involve a firearm.
Penny Shtull, a professor of criminology & criminal justice at Norwich University, says there may have been a triggering event like an argument, but a murder that seems like an act of passion is often planned. “Although they may appear impulsive or that the offender lost control, these are actually the ultimate form of power and domination, or the ultimate form of control over a victim,” she said.
Shtull says the majority of domestic violence-related homicides have a history of physical and emotional abuse that escalates into threats and then lethal action. Women in abusive relationships who’ve been threatened with a firearm -- or if a firearm is present in the home -- are at much higher risk of being murdered. Shtull says victims or friends and family often don’t even recognize the serious danger. “The victim themselves, even though there’s been a prior history of domestic violence, can’t necessarily assess their own risk for being murdered,” she said.
“It’s up to us in the community to interrupt these horrific situations and hopefully to interrupt them long before we get to the place where somebody is being killed,” Tronsgard-Scott said.
The Vermont Network stresses that there are 15 organizations throughout the state prepared to offer support and resources to those experiencing domestic violence. Leaders say there is even support for abusers who want to change their ways.
Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.