Man allegedly killed sister-in-law after bust for breaking into her house

A Maine man suspected of killing his sister-in-law last week was scheduled to appear in court the day before her body was found on charges of breaking into the woman’s home, court officials said.

Philip Clark, 55, failed to appear on Thursday at Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor, where he was scheduled to be arraigned on a charge from June 15 of violating a criminal trespass order for allegedly trying to break into the apartment of Renee Clark, a court clerk told the Bangor Daily News.

Police in Hampden — a town of roughly 7,200 residents — have not identified the victim in Friday’s homicide, but the woman’s former husband, Dom Crocitto, confirmed to the newspaper that Renee Clark was killed Friday.

Renee Clark was in the process of divorcing her current husband, Frank Clark III, and recently moved out of a residence she shared with her husband and Philip Clark on Kennebec Road because she felt unsafe around them, Crocitto said.

“It came through the family, from a phone call,” Crocitto said of how he was informed of the woman’s death. “And I told the children.”

Crocitto, 60, now lives with three adult children he helped raise from Renee Clark’s previous relationship. Court documents indicate that the woman had been “fearful” of what might happen next after moving out of the building and into a rental home by herself while getting divorced.

“I am in the process of retaining council [sic] and filing for divorce,” Clark wrote in a June 15 temporary protection from abuse complaint accusing her husband of verbally and emotionally abusing her. “I am fearful of what he will do through this process and would like to have protection through it.”

Clark said she had stayed away from the Kennebec Road address for several weeks to avoid her husband. Most recently, she was living in an apartment adjacent to Philip Clark’s at the same address, the Bangor Daily News reports.

A judge in February denied Clark’s request for a protection from abuse order against Philip Clark because the statute did not apply to a spouse’s sibling. She declined to apply for a protection from harassment order, which can be brought against anyone, according to the newspaper.

In her Feb. 2 petition, Clark listed five examples in which her brother-in-law allegedly threatened her during the past two years, including one incident where he allegedly said she would “stop breathing” if she ever caused his brother to be arrested again. He also “stated a particular gun that would help that occur,” Clark wrote of one alleged incident in July 2016.

Frank Clark, whose criminal records includes counts of robbery and assault, hung up on a reporter Monday when asked for comment. He also had a domestic violence assault charge dismissed in a plea agreement in July 2016. He has denied the abuse allegations filed by his wife in a motion to dismiss order, according to the newspaper.

Crocitto said Renee Clark told him the volatile relationship she had with her husband’s brother was recently “aggravated” because of the ongoing issues in her marriage.

“Guns are his favorite + plentiful,” Clark wrote in her complaint against Philip Clark. “Based upon his prior threat to make me stop breathing using a particular gun if I ever caused his brother to be arrested again, the fact that his brother (my husband) was arrested for domestic violence assault against me this morning …,” Clark wrote. “I fear he may – in a drunken stupor – cause me bodily harm or even to stop breathing.”

An autopsy performed on the victim showed she died of multiple gunshot wounds, the Bangor Daily News reports. Investigators have yet to comment on a possible motive.

Renee Clark met Frank Clark when she started working at his corner store, the Highlands Corner Market, in 2008. She later left Crocitto for him, but her children stayed with Crocitto after the split, he said.

Philip Clark, who was charged with murder on Friday, was scheduled to appear in court Monday. It’s unclear if he’s hired an attorney.

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