The Hampden man accused of killing his sister-in-law last week failed to appear in court the day before police arrested him for her murder, according to a court clerk.
Philip Clark, 55, missed his court date at Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Thursday, when he was scheduled to be arraigned on a June 15 charge of violating a criminal trespass order for allegedly trying to enter the apartment of Renee Clark, 49, according to the court clerk’s office.
Police have not officially identified the victim in last week’s homicide — authorities are working to confirm her identify following a Saturday autopsy — but Renee’s ex-husband, Dom Crocitto, told the Bangor Daily News that Renee was killed Friday. An arrest affidavit released Monday states that Clark told police he shot Renee to death when police showed up at his apartment on Thursday night.
Police issued a warrant for Philip’s arrest on Thursday when he failed to show up in court. At some point during the next 24 hours, Philip allegedly killed a woman whose body was found at 557 Kennebec Road, police said. Renee lived in an apartment adjacent to Philip’s at the same address.
Maine State Police officers arrested Philip in connection with the killing on Friday. An autopsy performed the next day determined the victim died of multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
Philip made his first court appearance Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on one count of intentional or knowing murder. He was not asked to enter a plea because he has not yet been indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury. The grand jury next convenes July 25.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered that Clark be held without bail, which is standard practice in murder cases. He has been held at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest Friday.
Renee Clark’s parents and children attended the brief hearing but declined to speak with reporters.
Police have not commented on a motive.
But Renee, a lifelong Hampden resident and licensed mental health counselor, left a trail of court documents that catalogued the reasons she felt unsafe around her brother-in-law. Philip lived in the apartment adjacent to the one Renee shared with her husband and his brother, Frank “Chuck” Clark, 56, although Renee was reportedly in the process of getting a divorce and had moved out.
In early February, a judge denied Renee’s attempt to get a protection from abuse order against Philip, because the statute “does not apply to a spouse’s sibling in this situation.” Renee did not subsequently petition for a protection from harassment order, which can be brought against anyone and where “no special relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant is required.”
She had petitioned for the order on Feb. 2, when she catalogued at least five of examples in which Philip allegedly threatened her over the past two years.
“Philip stated that if I ever caused a police officer to arrest his brother again, I’d stop breathing and he stated a particular gun that would help that occur,” she wrote of one alleged incident that occurred on July 16, 2016.
Frank has a long criminal history in Maine that includes counts for robbery, assault and, most recently, a domestic violence assault charge that was dismissed in a plea agreement in July 2016. He hung up on a call for comment on Monday.
On June 15 — also the day Philip allegedly tried to trespass in her apartment — Renee filed a temporary protection from abuse order against Frank, whom she accused of physically and mentally abusing her. He denied those allegations in a motion to dismiss the order. A hearing on the filing had been scheduled for later this month.
Crocitto, who is still close with his ex-wife’s three adult children and spoke to Renee in the weeks before she died, said Renee’s already tense relationship with Philip was “aggravated” lately because of the ongoing problems in her marriage to his brother. Crocitto said Renee had found a place to live on her own because she didn’t feel safe at the Kennebec Road apartment.
In her February court complaint against Philip, Renee wrote about his access to weapons. “Guns are his favorite + plentiful,” she wrote.
“Based upon his prior threat to make me stop breathing using a particular gun if I ever caused his brother to be arrested again, the fact that his brother (my husband) was arrested for domestic violence assault against me this morning…,” she wrote, “I fear he may — in a drunken stupor [—] cause me bodily harm or even to stop breathing.”
If convicted of murder, Clark faces 25 years to life in prison.
BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.
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