SOUTHINGTON - A Naugatuck man who police say killed a woman in a Southington backyard Sunday has died.
Police said Robert DeSantis shot and killed his one-time girlfriend, Michelle Barrett, 41, before turning the gun on himself in a vehicle outside the Naugatuck Police Department around 5 a.m. Sunday. He was taken to Waterbury Hospital, where he died around 1:30 p.m. Monday, according to police.
Police say their investigation is still active. They did not release further details Monday.
The investigation into Barrett’s death began early Sunday after DeSantis, 40, called a relative and said he had had killed Barrett.
The relative, thinking the incident had occurred in Naugatuck, called police there, who then traced Barrett to her grandmother’s home in Southington, at 58 Manor Road.
Southington police were called at 6 a.m. Sunday to check on Barrett. At the grandmother’s house, officers found Barrett dead in the backyard, having being shot once with a .38-caliber revolver.
Police believe she may have been shot around 1 a.m., as some neighbors reported hearing a noise at that time. Barrett’s grandmother, who was not injured, was asleep.
Before Barrett’s body was discovered, DeSantis drove to the Naugatuck Police Department parking lot around 5 a.m. and shot himself in the head while parked as officers were approaching his vehicle, police said.
Southington police have speculated that he may have gone there because Naugatuck police were trying to get in contact with him after receiving a call from his relative, who has not been identified.
The motive for the killing remains unclear.
This is the seventh domestic-violence-related murder in Connecticut so far this year, according to Barbara Damon, executive director of the Prudence Crandall Center, which provides services for victims of domestic violence for nine area towns, including Southington.
Damon said the group’s main goal is to raise awareness and prevent future domestic violence.
Some of the warning signs, she said, include domestic partners who become overly jealous and possessive, who make threats and “put down” their partner and who isolate their partner from his or her family and friends.
“I think the biggest myth about domestic violence is that it only happens in certain neighborhoods with ‘those people over there,’ ” Damon said.
It happens everywhere, she continued.
“We want people to know help is available,” Damon said, adding that the 24-hour statewide Domestic Violence Coalition helpline is 888-774-2900.
“That connects you to your local coalition,” she said. “It’s the gateway to our services.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.