Brendon Owen, a 47-year-old Massachusetts man, is in police custody after authorities said he broke into his ex-wife’s home, beat her to death, and set her house on fire Friday.
Police said Shirley Owen, 49, was pulled from the blaze and given first aid but could not be revived. She died at the scene. Authorities cuffed Brendon after a brief chase through the garage, according to reports.
The 47-year-old was charged with murder, home invasion, arson, kidnapping, and assault. At a pretrial hearing hours later, he pleaded not guilty, and the judge ordered him held without bail.
Prosecutors: Brendon Owen Committed ‘Calculated Killing’
At his arraignment hearing Friday, prosecutor Anne Yas said Brendon Owen began his alleged siege on his ex-wife’s Franklin home at 7:15 that morning. Shirley’s mother reportedly saw him ascending the staircase at the home, carrying a hammer and a led pipe.
The mother-in-law said Owen hurled insults at her, blaming her for “trying to take his kids,” according to Yas. He allegedly ordered her to get on the ground, but she was unable to do so because of a “physical restriction,” so he beat her with the pipe, smashed her cellphone and tied her up in the bathroom, authorities claimed.
Shirley’s mother was able to untie herself and escape the home to call police, Yas said, but she heard her daughter screaming as she fled.
When first responders arrived, the doors were locked, the attorney said. Through the window, Owen was seen brandishing a bottle of lighter fluid and a couch appeared to be burning.
“At the same time, the people on the lawn, including the victim’s mother were screaming she’s still in the house,” the prosecutor added.
Officers rammed down the door and chased Owen through the garage. Police had to use a stun gun to take him into custody, according to reports.
Authorities found Shirley lying facedown between the garage and the house and tried to render aid, but she “had suffered obvious blunt force trauma to the back of her head” and could not be saved, Yas said. Her mother was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
No Bail for ‘Incredibly Egregious’ Suspect
Disturbingly, Yas told the court that Brendon Owen went to great lengths to plot his alleged home invasion. She said the 47-year-old was wearing all black and carrying a “checklist” of goals, though she did not specify the items on the list.
“This was the calculated killing of his ex-wife and the kidnapping and beating of his 74-year-old ex-mother-in-law,” the prosecutor said.
In Owen’s car, police claimed they found large garbage bags and lime, which is thought to speed the body’s decomposition process.
For their part, Owen’s lawyers argued for $100,000 bond. The 47-year-old had no violent criminal history, they said, adding that he had suffered a debilitating grand mal seizure a few years ago. Defense attorneys also claimed that Owen lived with his mother and was not at risk of skipping bail.
Meanwhile, authorities argued that the accusations were so chilling that he should remain behind bars until trial.
“The commonwealth is asking that this defendant be held without bail as he is facing serious charges including first-degree murder for the calculated killing of his ex-wife,” Yas said, calling the alleged crime “incredibly egregious.”
Wrentham District Court Judge Scott Peterson sided with the prosecutors, ordering Owen’s bail be remanded. The accused killer is due back in court on January 19 for a probable cause hearing, according to reports.
Shirley Owen May Have Been Abused
Franklin Police Chief Thomas Lynch told reporters that the couple had previous domestic violence incidents.
“There’s a history,” he said. “For the past seven years, we’ve been there off and on, not as much as the past couple of years.”
Shirley Owen, he said, had an “open restraining order” against Brendon since 2014. She filed a notice that her husband had violated the order, which the court was still processing at the time of her death.
The Owens reportedly have two children, though neither was home Friday morning.
“There are children who reside in that home and officials have assured that they are safe tonight,” District Attorney Michael Morrissey said.