The Arlington woman and her infant twins found dead Monday were apparently killed by her husband, a decorated paramedic with a history of depression, who slashed his sons’ throats and strangled his wife before killing himself in the peaceful suburban neighborhood where they lived, officials with knowledge of the case said Tuesday.
The Middlesex district attorney’s office would not provide details on the case, except to say there is no public safety threat, and that they were awaiting an autopsy report. But two law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity said they believe that Scott D. Jones, 43, killed his wife, Mei, also 43, and their two boys, just days after their marriage had apparently fallen apart. Those officials said the knife used in the killings has been found.
The family’s bodies were discovered in their home on Newland Road by police, who were asked to check on them.
To neighbors, the Joneses seemed like another happy and attractive couple pushing strollers down the wide avenues of a neighborhood filled with young families. But court records, interviews, and social media sites reveal lives far more troubled and complex. Mei Jones’s family did not comment Tuesday; Scott Jones’s family could not be reached.
“Obviously we are stunned,’’ Jones’ civil attorney, Timothy M. Burke, said in a telephone interview from his Needham law firm. “There was no indication whatsoever that there was any family difficulty or that there was any internal conflict ongoing.”
Scott Jones, known as a hard-working paramedic with a quick sense of humor, won, along with his colleagues, a national award for charging into a dangerous scene in an attempt to save victims of a mass shooting in Wakefield in 2000. Mei was a successful database marketer at Road Scholar, an educational travel company based in Boston; she held a master’s in business administration from Bentley University and had been invited to speak at national conferences in her field.
But court records show that Scott Jones had a long and turbulent history at work and at home, including alleged suicide attempts, and alleged infidelity with a neighbor’s au pair. His previous wife, Rosette Cataldo, said in court records that she at one point feared for her safety.
Cataldo, who said she did not want to comment Tuesday, married Jones in 2001, the same year he earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Suffolk University. The couple had a son and daughter, now 10 and 8, and settled in Revere. In court records, Jones said he earned a second associate’s degree in X-ray technology in 2007.
But also that year, their family life began to unravel.
In divorce court, Cataldo said Jones had quit his job at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2007 without notifying her. A few days later, she said, Action Ambulance of Wilmington fired him allegedly for failing a breathalyzer on the job and smelling of alcohol.
Michael Woronka, chief executive officer and co-owner of Action Ambulance, confirmed that Jones worked for them, from 1998 to 2002 and again from 2003 to August 2007. He said Jones left to consider “alternative career options.” However, he said he would not comment on whether Jones was also dismissed for failing a breath test. He said the company did not report Jones to the state, which licenses paramedics, and knew of no disciplinary problems.
But a marriage counselor concluded that Jones was depressed and urged him to come in for an individual session. Instead, in September 2007, Jones skipped the session and called his wife, upset that the state had rejected his unemployment claim. Court records said he threatened to throw himself from the Tobin Bridge. “He told me he could not take it anymore,” she wrote.
Hours later, her relatives found Jones barely conscious from a drug overdose under the family’s deck. The contents of his paramedic’s bag were strewn in the house.
Jones was hospitalized and remained in a medical coma and on life support for several days. He was later released, but did not follow up with therapy. Instead, he drank, tossed out their furniture and confronted her so aggressively that she took out a restraining order, saying Jones had assaulted her in front of their children.
“Scott was so aggressive towards me that I truly believed he would harm me in my sleep,” she wrote.
In December 2007, he was cited for drunken driving, according to his state driving record. Cataldo filed for divorce in early 2008 and they battled over custody of their children. The pair divorced in March 2009, and she won custody, but she agreed to gradually increase his visits over time, from two hours of supervised visits a week to weekends in 2010, soon after he had moved in with his girlfriend, Mei. As a condition of the visits, he was required to undergo drug and alcohol testing.
But hours after a weekend visit in March 2010, Mei called Arlington police to report that Jones threatened to kill himself.
Police found his green Honda Accord at Break Heart Reservation in Saugus, in another suicide attempt by drug overdose, according to an Arlington police report and court records. Jones was again admitted to the hospital and then released.
By November 2012, he and Mei had married and welcomed two sons, Cameron and Colt.
The boys were born prematurely, according to court records, but from photos Mei Jones posted online, they appeared to thrive over the past year, growing into chubby babies snuggling against their mother. Their first birthday would have been Nov. 26.
To friends and neighbors, things seemed fine.
Jon Swanson, 47, a friend from Charlestown, said he spoke with Mei Jones less than two weeks ago and described her as upbeat. He said she asked Swanson, a recruiter, if he knew of any jobs in Cambridge. She wanted a shorter commute so that she could spend more time with her children. “There was no hint of any trouble,” he said.
But domestic violence experts said victims of abuse are often too ashamed to admit what is happening.
Laura Van Zandt— executive director of Reach Beyond Domestic Violence, which provides services to battered men and women in several communities including Arlington — said there are warning signs, such as a partner who constantly calls or texts or threatens suicide or homicide.
“It’s very hard to know what’s happening, and people do a very good job of hiding it,” she said. “It’s a matter of putting together the pieces. . . . There are particular things that over time might present to us a picture of a relationship that’s really dangerous.”
Fourteen people have been killed in domestic violence incidents this year in Massachusetts, including Jones and her two children, said Toni Troop, spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., a statewide coalition that works to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. There were 17 such killings in 2012. Nationwide, about 1,600 people are killed by their partners in the United States each year, mostly women, said David Adams, co-executive director of Emerge, a Cambridge nonprofit group that works with abusive partners to prevent domestic violence. However, Adams said the killing of a child and partner is rarer, about 100 a year. The last time such a case happened in Massachusetts was June 2010, when Thomas Mortimer IV, killed his mother-in-law, his wife, and their two children, 2 and 4, in Winchester.
Sometimes, people kill their families because they feel humiliated, from the loss of a job or a relationship, said Adams, who wrote a book on the subject, “Why Do They Kill?”
In a whistleblower lawsuit filed Oct. 16 in Middlesex Superior Court, Scott Jones said he had suffered “severe emotional distress” in February when his employer of four years, Lifeline Ambulance, fired him without cause. He said the company retaliated against him for raising concerns about faulty equipment that had threatened a disabled woman’s life, and narcotics with hard-to-read expiration dates. Lifeline did not respond to requests for comment.
In the lawsuit, Jones said the supervisor who fired him said he believed Jones was going through a divorce and having a “tough time.” Jones suggested he was mixing up his current marriage with his divorce from Cataldo. Jones said that he “was and is still married to his wife.”
But that same month, Mei Jones apparently posted on a parenting blog that she was about to become a single mom. She said she needed help finding a support group and a good lawyer. “It breaks my heart for the boys to grow up in a divorce family,” she wrote. “Their dad will probably not be in their lives either.”John Ellement and Peter Schworm contributed to this report. Maria Sacchetti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti