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Milford man charged with wife's stabbing death

Posted by Ralph Ranalli November 27, 2007 09:19 AM

ventola.jpg
Joseph Ventola was arraigned in Milford District Court yesterday after allegedly stabbing his wife, Ester, to death. His lawyer said he is "distraught and extremely depressed."
(Photo by Ellen Harasimowicz for the Boston Globe)

MILFORD

A 63-year-old man with a history of depression was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation yesterday after he was accused of fatally stabbing his wife of 18 years inside their home.

Worcester County prosecutor Sarah Richardson said in court yesterday that Joseph Ventola called police shortly after 8:30 a.m. and said, "I stabbed my wife to death," staff writer Megan Woolhouse of the Globe's City & Region staff reports today.

James Gavin Reardon Jr., a public defender who represented Ventola at his arraignment yesterday, entered a plea of not guilty on Ventola's behalf.

"He's very distraught and extremely depressed," Reardon said outside the courtroom.

A balding and frail-looking Ventola appeared in court in handcuffs, shackles, and a white jumpsuit. Milford District Court Judge Robert B. Calagione ordered him to be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation.

Police responding to the call from the suspect found Esther Ventola, 60, unresponsive, seated in a chair in the couple's family room. Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said during a news conference after the arraignment that she had been stabbed repeatedly with a large knife.

He did not disclose a possible motive or number of stab wounds, saying the case remains under investigation. Ventola initially did not let officers into the house and appeared distressed because opening the door might let out his dog, Early said.

The Ventolas had lived in the house for 18 years and had no history of problems or domestic disputes, according to Milford Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin. The couple lived on a quiet cul-de-sac in one of the town's nicest subdivisions, authorities said. Ventola recently retired from NStar, where he was an engineer, Reardon said. Esther Ventola was a secretary for a company in Leominster, said a neighbor.

"It's a shock not only for the neighborhood but everyone, including us," O'Loughlin said.

Court officials said the killing is the second this year in the town of 40,000.

Read more about the stabbing in the online edition of today's City & Region section.

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