The Hampden woman killed inside her Kennebec Road apartment building Friday was in the early steps of getting a divorce from the brother of her alleged killer, according to the victim’s ex-husband.
In the weeks leading up to her death, Renee L. Clark, 49, had moved out of the 557 Kennebec Road home she shared with her husband, Frank “Chuck” Clark III, and where her husband’s brother, Philip Clark, also lived, because she felt unsafe around them, said Dom Crocitto, who said he was married to Renee from 2004 to 2008.
On Friday, police charged Philip, 55, with the murder of a woman who lived at that address. After an autopsy was performed Saturday, a Maine State Police spokesman said she died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Authorities had not officially confirmed the woman’s identity as of Sunday morning, but Crocitto said he received a phone call Friday from members of Renee’s family informing him of her death. Crocitto, 60, helped raise Renee’s three adult children from a previous relationship, and they still live with him in Winterport.
“It came through the family, from a phone call. And I told the children,” he said Sunday.
Police have not commented on a possible motive for the shooting or provided any details on how it happened.
But Crocitto said — and court documents show — that Renee said she felt unsafe at the Kennebec apartment building where she died, and she had moved out of the building and into a rented house by herself while she was in the process of getting a divorce.
“I am in the process of retaining council [sic] and filing for divorce. I am fearful of what he will do through this process and would like to have protection through it,” Renee wrote in a June 15 temporary protection from abuse complaint filed in District Court in Bangor that accused her husband of verbal and physical abuse.
She added in the filing that she had not been staying at her residence on Kennebec Road for the last several weeks to avoid him. Attempts to reach Frank Clark, 56, for comment Sunday were unsuccessful, but court documents say that he denies the allegations against him. He filed a motion to dismiss the protection order, and a court date was scheduled for July 26 at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
Also on June 15 — the same day Renee filed for the restraining order against her husband — police charged his brother, Philip, with criminal trespassing after he tried to to enter Renee’s home, according to a District Court clerk.
The charge was the most recent in Philip Clark’s criminal history in Maine that dates back to the mid-1980s, and includes counts for assault and possession of a concealed firearm.
Hampden police Sgt. Dan Stewart said Friday he did not think police had ever responded to calls about conflict between Renee and her brother-in-law — only that there had been “ongoing domestic issues” between the Renee and Frank.
But friction in that marriage created “a lot of aggravation between her and Philip, and she said she did not feel safe around him,” Crocitto said Sunday.
Crocitto, a former Winterport mail carrier, met Renee Clark in 2000. He was attracted to her strong will, and he praised her commitment to her job as a licensed mental health professional.
“She was always working weekends, if someone was in a crisis,” her ex-husband said.
Renee was a devout Roman Catholic and involved with Interfaith Community Opiate Healing team with the St. John the Apostle Paul Parish in the Bangor area. In June, she ra n for the open at-large seat on the Hampden Town Council.
“From wonderful childhood memories of growing up on a dead-end dirt road on the water, to mother of children at Hampden Academy, and now a granddaughter poised to begin her high school as a fifth-generation Hampden Academy student, my focus has moved from family to greater community,” she wrote in the town newsletter before the June 12 election.
Renee met Frank Clark when she started working at his corner store, the Highlands Corner Market, and she left Crocitto for him in 2008, Crocitto said.
The children remained with Crocitto after the couple split, which is one of the reasons the two stayed in touch.
Crocitto recalled tearfully on Sunday that he spoke to his ex-wife a few weeks ago, and counseled her not to move back in with her husband and stay in the house she was renting by herself. During that conversation, she also mentioned “trouble” with Philip Clark, but didn’t elaborate, he said.
He said he doesn’t know what brought Renee to her old apartment Friday, or why she died.
BDN writer Alex Acquisto contributed to this report.
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