WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The man accused of shooting his ex-wife and then himself in an apparent murder-suicide in Woonsocket on Sunday called another person in between the shootings to tell her what he had done, Woonsocket Police said Monday.
Police Chief Thomas Oates identified the suspect as Glenn Benvenuti, age 56 of Woonsocket, and the victim as Michelle Benvenuti, age 45 of North Smithfield. The two have been divorced for about five years.
The Benvenutis were parents to a 7-year-old child who was inside the home at the time of the shootings. Police say he was not hurt, and they believe he did not witness the violence.
Oates said police first received a call Sunday morning from a longtime friend of Mr. Benvenuti, who told police he had called her to say he shot his ex-wife and was going to shoot himself. She told police she knew there was a child inside because they were talking on the phone earlier.
“He hung up from her to say that the ex-wife had arrived at the house,” Oates said in a news conference Monday afternoon. “He called her back very shortly thereafter and said that he had just shot her and that he was going to shoot himself, and then hung up the phone.”
Police say he shot himself a short time later.
Officers who initially responded to the home on Bluestone Drive did not go inside because of the possibility of an armed person being in there with a child. After about an hour, a SWAT team made entry and found the two bodies.
The young boy was removed by police and is now in the custody of family members.
Chief Oates said Ms. Benvenuti was at Mr. Benvenuti’s house because she was picking up her son from visiting his father.
Police do not currently know a motive for the alleged murder.
“It’s awful,” Oates said. “This woman is the victim of the ultimate crime of domestic violence. She’s been murdered. You’ve got a 7-year-old now who is missing both his parents…it’s just tragic.”
Oates said a gun safe containing multiple rifles and shotguns was confiscated from the house following the shooting. Multiple neighbors told Eyewitness News Mr. Benvenuti was a hunter.
Police said Benvenuti’s firearms were briefly seized in 2013, when a temporary restraining order was filed by Ms. Benvenuti against her husband following a domestic incident. The order only lasted a few weeks, after which his guns were returned to him.
Oates said the 2013 incident was the most recent time police were called regarding the couple. No assault complaint was made and no charges were filed.
The end of the couple’s 5-year marriage became final in December 2013, according to court records, due to “irreconcilable differences.” According to the divorce decree filed in Providence County Family Court, the couple shared custody of their only child together but Michelle Benvenuti was given primary physical custody.
Glenn Benvenuti was granted visitation at specific hours four days per week, according to the decree, and was instructed to pick him up and drop him off with his mother at the North Smithfield Police Department. Court records don’t indicate if the custody arrangement changed since then.
The 2013 divorce decree describes Mr. Benvenuti as a foreman at a commercial bakery, and Ms. Benvenuti as employed at a community health center.
Detective Captain Adam Remick said Mr. Benvenuti has had one other temporary restraining order filed against him by a woman from a previous relationship. Police say he has at least six children from multiple marriages.