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10/30/2020 2:42:12 PM
Posted: 8/22/2004 7:07:38 PM EST
Minivan assault shocks neighbors

Sunday, August 22, 2004

PALMER - When officers arrived at the Country Manor apartment complex, they found a severely injured man on the ground and his wife leaning against a white minivan as horrified neighbors looked on.

"We had a domestic incident," Starleen A. Rutkowski confessed to officers who responded to the gruesome scene Tuesday night in the Three Rivers section of Palmer.

A fishing trip gone awry drove Rutkowski, 46, to use her minivan as a weapon and hit her husband Richard J. five times, law enforcement officials said this week.

Rutkowski is facing a murder charge and is being held without bail at Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow. She was arraigned in Palmer District Court Wednesday.

The incident shocked neighbors of the 48-apartment, four building complex on Off Lariviere Street.

Many residents said they didn't know them well and that they were quiet - especially Starleen. The Rutkowskis were new to the complex, having moved there in May from Salt Lake City, Utah. Richard Rutkowski previously lived in Granby, then moved out west. Police believe he met his future wife, then Starleen Ordway, in Utah. They had been married six years, police said.

They didn't have children and didn't work, Police Chief Robert P. Frydryk said. The couple was not known to police. Frydryk said in this case it appeared that Starleen Rutkowski's emotions got the better of her.

"Fortunately we're a small town, and murders don't happen as frequently," he said.

The last murder in Palmer was in 1994. That year Anne R. Chabot killed her husband, Peter, and then turned the gun on herself in a murder-suicide.

Gregory T. Schmutte, dean of psychology and education at American International College in Springfield, said it's difficult to analyze what happened without knowing all the information. "This sounds like it was a pretty impulsive act," Schmutte said.

But it's not the first time a car has been used to kill. Over a year ago, a Texas woman, Clara Harris, was convicted of murder for running over her husband David with her Mercedes-Benz after finding him with his mistress.

Schmutte said Rutkowski's case was unusual in the sense that she repeatedly hit her husband with the car. Most people, he said, would stop and consider what they had done.

The car, Schmutte said, made her more powerful. While not perceived by most individuals as a weapon, the car gave her leverage and power over her husband, Schmutte said.

"You would have to think that she was pushed to the boiling point, pushed to the brink to initiate that activity. You wouldn't think of someone in a normal state of mental health doing something like that," Schmutte said.

Frydryk said the couple went fishing at Lake George in Wales when Richard Rutkowski wandered off, infuriating his wife. She left him behind, returned to the complex, and tossed all his belongings into the hallway. When he got home, they argued outside. She told him she was angry and he laughed at her, Assistant District Attorney Timothy Rogers said at the arraignment.

The laughter put her over the edge and she rammed him with the car five times, officials said. Resident Gloria A. Kimbell, who saw the incident through her window, said Richard Rutkowski "didn't even look human anymore."

Richard Rutkowski, 50, was pronounced dead at Wing Memorial Hospital that night. Starleen Rutkowski was arrested at the scene and charged with a single count of murder. The investigation is ongoing by Palmer police and state police detectives assigned to Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett's office.

Residents and shop owners in Three Rivers were amazed a murder could happen in their neighborhood.

"It's something for out here," said Country Manor resident Timothy L. Green. One store owner said he was shocked at how much Rutkowski resembled Ozzy Osbourne.

Lisa M. Belanger, manager of Sarah Lynne's Country Store on Main Street, said she was familiar with the couple. She said she would often talk to Richard Rutkowski when he bought newspapers. The last time she saw the Rutkowskis was last Sunday, and they appeared to be getting along.

"He was a gentle man, soft-spoken. He was concerned about the environment and picked up trash along the river," Belanger said.

She said he loved animals and had just gotten a cat. She said it looked like he had a stroke because he could not use one side of his body well. Belanger said she thinks she heard him scream when he was hit by a car.

"This will be in our minds for a long time. It's very sad and I hope it never happens again," Belanger said.

Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:10:16 PM EST
Ban them now!
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:10:25 PM EST
Now imagine that article with the word car replaced with assault rifle.
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:12:04 PM EST
Time to ban marriages.
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:12:22 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/22/2004 7:22:59 PM EST by warlord]
This is nothting new, from time to time, I would hear about a vehicle use as a murder weapon. Among the gang-bangers it's known as a "driver over."

"OKay, Mr. & Mrs America, turn 'em all in."
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:13:33 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/22/2004 7:15:29 PM EST by DigDug]
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:14:51 PM EST
I take it this was a high capacity, reloadable minvan?
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:28:38 PM EST
Did the minivan have 'evil features' like a trailer hitch, luggage rack, or an extra fuel tank for long range driving? Such 'evil features' need to be banned because normal drivers commuting to work don't need to tow boats, they can carry all their luggage inside their Yugo, and should stop every 100 miles for fuel. This extra fuel capacity is a clear and present danger to other motorists should there be a wreck. Everyone knows that cars explode into tremendous fireballs anyway during accidents because every movie has a crash ending in a fireball.

Ban them now. Do it for the children. Have a Million Motorcyclists March on Washington to highlight the danger these assault vans pose to bikers.


Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:34:43 PM EST
Obviously, we need to get rid of "high capacity" fuel feeding devices.  Then she would have ran out of gas after running him over just one or two times.  Law abiding citizens would put up with reasonable restrictions like this to save lives.
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:38:20 PM EST
now everyone sees why cars are registered.
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:45:50 PM EST
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 7:47:43 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/22/2004 7:49:38 PM EST by m98codered]
and I believe it was an AUTOMATIC WEAPON

Link Posted: 8/22/2004 8:02:23 PM EST
Link Posted: 8/22/2004 8:09:07 PM EST

Originally Posted By m98codered:
and I believe it was an AUTOMATIC WEAPON


but the semi's that are gonna come out in Sept are gonna have more thrusts per squeeze!!  I cant wait!!
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