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Crime News Breaking News

Woman Allegedly Murdered By Ex-Husband Who Assaulted Her Mother, Set Fire To Home

Brendon Owen was subject to a restraining order at the time of the alleged attack on his ex-wife and her mother.

By Jax Miller

A Massachusetts man is under arrest after violating a restraining order and committing several crimes against his ex-wife and her mother, authorities says.

Brendon Owen, 47, of East Bridgewater was taken into custody on Friday, according to a press release from the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office. Owen is accused of assaulting his former mother-in-law, Mary Branco, and murdering his ex-wife, Shirley Branco Owen, before setting fire to the women's Franklin home.

The suspect was seen wearing all black and carrying a hammer preceding the attack, according to a prosecutor cited by Boston’s CBS affiliate.

Shirley Branco Owen Fb

Brendon allegedly first attacked 75-year-old Mary Branco with a lead pipe and hammer, according to a police report obtained by the Boston Globe.

Police claimed Brendon “hit [Branco] over the head with the lead pipe and smashed her cellphone,” according to the newspaper. Brendon then allegedly duct-taped his former mother-in-law’s mouth and legs and warned her not to alert Branco Owen of his presence when his ex returned to the house after bringing her children to school.

Shortly after Branco Owen returned from the school, Branco was able to free herself from the restraints and fled from the house amid her daughter’s screams. She ran across the street to a neighbor, who called the police.

District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey and Franklin Police Chief Thomas J. Lynch issued a joint statement.

“[Franklin Police Department] had received a 911 call at approximately 7:40 a.m. from a Grace Lane resident reporting an ongoing domestic assault at the residence of their neighbor, Shirley Owen,” the release stated. “Police arrived within five minutes and observed Mr. Owen inside the home.”

Responders found Brendon standing by a burning couch, spraying what appeared to be an accelerant and lighting a match, according to the Boston Globe. Police tried to kick in the door but were overpowered by the smoke.

Owen allegedly ignored authorities’ demands to let the police enter the residence while attempting to exit via another door, the District Attorney’s release stated. Police captured Owen with the use of a taser near the home’s garage.

Despite “substantial smoke and fire inside the building,” officers entered the home, found Shirley Branco Owen and brought her lifeless body outside.

“Ms. Owen showed obvious signs of major traumatic injury and was unresponsive when FPD began first aid and life support measures,” the District Attorney’s office continued.” She was pronounced dead at the scene after the arrival of ambulance and fire personnel.”

According to the CBS affiliate, police found three handwritten notes in the suspect’s pocket: One for his children, one for his mother, and an apparent “checklist” which lhat included lighter fluid and a lighter.

District Attorney Morrissey stated that a restraining order was in effect on the day of the attack.

Shirley Branco Owen had filed for divorce in 2014 after 11 years of marriage, according to the Boston Globe. In court records cited by the newspaper, Shirley expressed fear for her safety in the past.

“I believe my husband will react irrationally to the restraining order and divorce and will do things to harm me, including shutting off utilities, withdrawing money and anything else he can think of to harm me financially,” Shirley wrote in a sworn statement. “His controlling behavior with regard to our finances leaves me and my children vulnerable because of his anger and desire to harm me.”

The couple’s children were unharmed in the attack.

“There are children who reside in that home, and officials have assured me they are safe tonight,” said District Attorney Morrissey.

Owen pleaded not guilty to charges of home invasion, kidnapping, arson of a dwelling house and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury.

Brendon’s lawyer, Neil Madden, said his client had no memory of the events, according to the Boston Globe.

Brendon Owen is being held without bail and is scheduled for a probable cause hearing on Jan. 19, 2022.