UTICA — Less than a week before she was gunned down by an estranged former boyfriend, 23-year-old Kylie Turczyn told Utica police she feared for her safety, authorities said Monday.
Because the incidents occurred outside Utica, however, Turczyn was told early last week to contact the proper police agency and to seek help through Oneida County Family Court, officials said.
But what Turczyn did next and whether she ever took steps to get a court order of protection still remain unclear.
In the meantime, authorities still are probing the events surrounding Turczyn’s murder on Friday at the hands of her former boyfriend, Thomas “TJ” Anderson Jr., to determine whether anything could have been handled differently.
“We can’t prosecute anybody in this case because the perpetrator is dead, but if there was a flaw in the system, if there was something that went wrong, we need to look at that and make a determination so this doesn’t happen in the future,” Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said. “Did something go wrong? At this point, it’s too early to say.”
Anderson, 27, of Utica, shot Turczyn repeatedly in the torso with a 9 mm rifle shortly before 1:30 p.m. while she cowered in the bathroom at her parents’ residence on Carver Street in Deerfield. An autopsy determined that Turczyn was not shot in the head.
Anderson then turned the gun on himself, ending a rollercoaster of domestic incidents and custodial disputes involving their 4-year-old daughter, Gabriella.
Previous charges dropped
McNamara plans to look at when Turczyn previously pressed charges against Anderson in early 2011 after she said he threatened to kill her following an argument. Turczyn later recanted her statement and told prosecutors that she “lied and made everything up” just to get back at Anderson for having sex with another girl, McNamara said.
Anderson’s harassment and contempt charges were dropped, and Turczyn pleaded guilty in March 2011 to making a false written statement, a misdemeanor, McNamara said.
Although Turczyn insisted at the time that she hadn’t been threatened to change her story, McNamara said he is already reviewing their video recorded statements to determine if any lessons can be learned in hindsight.
What’s clear at this point is that Turczyn met with Utica police domestic violence Investigator Elizabeth Shanley at the city police station early last week, police said. Because Turczyn was familiar with Shanley from past incidents, Turczyn reached out to Shanley regarding concerns about her safety.
Once their conversation revealed that the alleged incidents did not occur in Utica’s jurisdiction, Shanley referred Turczyn to state police, Family Court and domestic violence services, Utica police Sgt. Steven Hauck explained Monday.
Later that same night, Shanley did something police officers don’t often do on their own time, Hauck said: She contacted Turczyn’s family and told them to encourage Turczyn to seek help.
Because it’s not uncommon for domestic violence victims to reconsider police or court action, Shanley wanted to be sure Turczyn followed through, Hauck said.
“I just know that the investigator was obviously concerned, and she encouraged the victim to take all the steps that were needed,” Hauck said.
Turczyn’s family could not be reached Monday.
Although Hauck said he believes Turczyn attempted to appear in Family Court following her conversation with Shanley, the outcome of those efforts is not yet known.
State police also are continuing to piece together the circumstances of this deadly domestic incident.
“Our goal at this point is to investigate if there is a specific occurrence that triggered this incident, and we’ll also try to pin down the origin of the weapon that was used and any domestic history between the victim and the perpetrator,” state police Troop D Capt. Mark Lincoln said.
Because both people are dead, Lincoln agreed with McNamara that the outcome of their investigation may offer a larger opportunity to improve how such cases of domestic threats are handled.
“The reason we’re doing all this is for the benefit of the family and for the police, to try and learn if anything can be done differently on incidents like this in the future,” Lincoln said