In the best of cases, divorce engenders heightened emotions and challenges for spouses and children. In the worst of cases, which fortunately are rare, emotions rise to dangerous levels. A history or episode of mental illness or past violence often exists in the most egregious incidents.
An article in the Courthouse News relates how a desire for revenge in a divorce case in Arizona played a role in a mass murder. In this high profile case. a man shot and killed six people over a four day period in or near Scottsdale, Arizona. Four of the victims played at least a peripheral role in the divorce proceedings of the shooter. The divorce, filed by the wife in 2009, spanned nine years and covered 382 filing motions. In the course of the proceedings, the shooter exhibited signs of violence and implied threats to his estranged wife’s co-workers. The man, upon court orders, underwent a risk assessment evaluation; he later shot the forensic psychiatrist who conducted the evaluation. The man also shot and killed three others loosely connected to some aspect of the divorce, either as lawyers or counselors, and two other victims before killing himself.
A posting at Courthouse News shows the Maricopa County Superior Court received the divorce filing in 2009. The filing stated that the marriage was irretrievably broken with no prospect for reconciliation. The couple had one child and the mother received sole custody. The court awarded the father therapeutic supervised parenting time with the child. The document implied that a history of “significant acts of domestic violence” by the father made sole custody by the mother in the best interests of the child.