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Westerly suspected killer threatened murder-suicide in the past

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Court records show the Westerly man accused of fatally shooting a woman and injuring two others before turning the gun on himself Thursday threatened a similar act of violence 17 years ago, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

Joseph Giachello, the 66-year-old man suspected of opening fire at an assisted living home where he lived, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 2002 after he threatened to buy a gun to kill his then-wife and himself, according to court documents obtained by Target 12.

Giachello “was admitted and emergency certified to a hospital in southern Rhode Island on about 01 September 2002 for being homicidal and suicidal, having confessed to the staff that he had been planning to purchase a gun at Walmart, kill [his wife] and himself,” according to a court filing.

Following the threats, Giachello’s ex-wife obtained a three-year restraining order against him and then lost track of his whereabouts, according to the documents.

The threat was detailed as part of a divorce filing between Giachello and his ex-wife, whom Target 12 is not identifying. A Newport County Family Court judge ruled in favor of the woman after Giachello didn’t show up for court.

“During the course of their marriage, irreconcilable differences arose which led to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage,” wrote the judge handling the case. “These differences were over the fact that there was violence in the relationship in that [Giachello] was abusing [his wife].”

Police have identified Giachello as the man who opened fire at Babcock Village in Westerly on Thursday morning, shocking the seaside community near the Connecticut border. He’s accused of fatally shooting Julie Lynn Cardinal, 47, of Westerly, and injuring Robin Moss, 35, of Cranston, and Donna Thornley, 66, of Westerly.

Police said Giachello shot the victims at the main entrance of the housing complex before returning to his room where he killed himself. The actions echoed the threats he made in 2002 before court documents say he was admitted to Butler Hospital, a mental health hospital in Providence.

Giachello was born in New London, Connecticut, and listed a Middletown address in his 2002 marriage certificate. It was the fifth time he had been married, according to court documents, and his ex-wife claimed her decision to file for divorce was influenced by a family member’s substance abuse, although more specific details were not provided.

Police have not yet announced a motive in the Westerly killing.  

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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