It was a turbulent marriage in crisis. Lori Gellatly had grown so terrified of her husband Scott that she’d fled to her parents’ home for refuge with her baby twins.
Desperately, she took steps to protect herself and her children, but it wasn’t enough. Scott hunted her down and aimed a gun at the one person Lori couldn’t live without. “Don’t kill my mommy,” Lori cried. That was her last breath. She made a sacrifice that proved what a special woman she really was.
Soft-spoken Lori, 32, was an environmental analyst in a marriage that was beyond repair. Scott was Lori’s first husband, while Scott had been married before. He was already a dad of two when they met and the couple had twins – a boy and a girl.
Lori adored being a mum, but her family was falling apart. Scott, a fire sprinkler installer, had a fierce temper and controlled his wife’s every move. Lori was very close to her mum, Merry Jackson – a relationship Scott tried to tear apart, but their bond could withstand anything.
She was afraid
In April 2014, when Lori finally found the courage to leave her husband, she sought refuge at her parents’ home in Oxford, Connecticut, with her 18-month-old twins. Like always, Merry was there when Lori needed her.
Lori went to the police and a warrant for Scott’s arrest was issued for a misdemeanour assault charge. Lori told police she was afraid of Scott, and that he’d ‘twisted her arm’ in an argument. Three temporary restraining orders were issued to stop him coming near Lori and her mum.
When Scott was informed about the warrants, he refused to turn himself in. Instead, he drained the family bank account and left the state. Then he posted false accusations on Facebook about Lori being unfaithful.
In the early hours of May 7, 2014, Scott headed to Merry’s home and at 5.30am, while Scott tried to break into the house, a terrified Lori dialled 911. But Scott forced his way in and a raging argument began.
When he pulled out a .38-calliber gun and aimed it at Merry, Lori begged her husband to stop. “Don’t kill Mommy,” she cried. Lori threw herself in front of her mum and was shot four times in the head and torso, dying instantly. Merry suffered a gunshot wound to the head and the family dog was injured.
Scott fled in Lori’s car, leaving the twins unharmed in their beds. Police reacted instantly to the threat. Schools in the area were put on lockdown and officers searched for Scott by foot, car and helicopter. He was eventually found six hours later sitting in his own truck in the car park of a fast food restaurant. There was a hose leading from the exhaust pipe into the vehicle in an apparent suicide attempt.
Remarkably, Merry pulled through. She lost the sight in her left eye and was left with pain in her legs – and the constant agony of losing her daughter.
When Scott recovered, he was put on suicide watch and held on a bond of £1.4 million. The case came to the attention of domestic violence campaigners, who urged for tougher gun laws for those under restraining orders.
After initially fighting the charges, Scott, 47, agreed to plead guilty to murder and attempted murder charges in exchange for a sentence of 45 years. As part of an Alford Plea, he didn’t admit his guilt but conceded there was enough evidence to secure a conviction.
In September 2015, Scott appeared in court. There were so many of Lori’s supporters attending that they had to move to a bigger room to fit everyone in. As Scott mumbled the word ‘guilty’ there were gasps of relief from Lori’s loved ones.
At the sentencing in November, Scott spoke to a crowded courtroom. “God has forgiven me already. Lori is an angel and I will see her in heaven.” When he said he wasn’t the ‘monster’ prosecutors portrayed him to be, one of Lori’s supporters said, “Yes, you are.” Scott added, “I made a mistake and it was a very big mistake. I didn’t do it on purpose.”
Judge Frank A. Lannotti responded saying: “Taking your wife’s life and trying to take your mother-in-law’s life is not a mistake. It was a contemplative, calculated intentional act by you and you clearly knew and understood what the consequences of that act would be. There’s virtually zero chance you will ever see the light of day.”
Merry spoke about the unbreakable bond she had with her daughter, which Scott tried to destroy. “He couldn’t pull her away from me and he couldn’t handle it. Lori and I had a bond that no one could break.”
She spoke about Lori’s final heart-breaking words and Lori’s last act to protect her.
“I believe she took the bullet,” Merry said, next to her husband Doug. “I would trade places with her in a heartbeat.”
The judge said Lori’s last few moments were all he needed to know about the type of person she was. “She saved her mother’s life. She knew she was going to die.”
He sentenced Scott to 45 years with no chance of parole.
Outside court, Merry, 64, was emotional. She said it was a ‘big victory’ for her daughter.
“I would have loved to hear “life” or, to tell you the truth, I would like the death penalty but it’s not possible,” she said. “I feel this is a life sentence for him. He’s not going to have a good life and he doesn’t deserve one. He took an angel that day and he tried to kill me.”
Campaigners are now pushing for the ‘Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act’, a bill that would prevent anyone with a temporary restraining order having access to a gun.
Along with her family, Merry will continue to campaign to protect others in Lori’s memory. Her bravery will never be forgotten.