November 18, 1946 (
Albany, New York
January 6, 1994, Bronxville, New York, United States
Scott Douglas (m. 1988–1993), Anthony Morrell (m. 1969–1988)
Anne Morell Petrillo, Alexandra Morrell, Victoria Douglas
Capt. James E. Scripps 3d, Anne Gibbs Scripps
Mary Scripps, James Scripps
Anne Scripps Douglas (November 18, 1946 – January 6, 1994) was a publishing heiress to the Scripps newspaper publishing; she was the great-great granddaughter of James E. Scripps, founder of The Detroit News. She was bludgeoned by her second husband, Scott Douglas, as she slept in their Westchester County home.
Family and marriages
Anne Douglas (née Scripps; formerly Morrell) was born on November 18, 1946 to Captain James E. Scripps III., a former merchant mariner, and Anne Scripps (née Gibbs) She has a brother James IV and a sister Mary who still live in Albany, New York. In 1969, when Scripps was 23 years of age, she married Anthony Morrell, a Rye stockbroker. The wedding was held in the St. Regis Hotel. The marriage resulted in two daughters, Alexandra and Annie. Her marriage to Anthony Morrell ended in divorce, but she loved and doted on her daughters greatly. In 1988, Scripps met Scott Douglas, an out-of-work and self-employed house painter, at a party. She hired him to paint her house and they married that October. They had a daughter Victoria, nicknamed Tori. Douglas did not get along with Scripps' oldest daughter Alexandra, who thought of him as not bright or articulate enough for her mother, and she quickly moved out of the house.
Scripps's daughters noticed that Douglas started drinking more heavily and became erratically violent towards their mother, openly hitting her in public on at least one occasion. Both Alex and Annie advised their mother to file for divorce and get an order of eviction to have him removed from their home. In 1991, Scripps took Tori and moved in with Alex. She had changed her will and moved back in for fear that Douglas would take Tori and flee. During the holidays, Scripps discovered Douglas had removed files such as Tori's birth certificate and other records from the house. Scripps and her two eldest daughters began documenting and keeping records of the assaults, and went on December 6, 1993, to obtain an eviction notice; however, the judge refused to order his eviction. Scripps told a friend that she began sleeping with a hammer under her bed because Douglas' new method of abuse was to wake her up in the middle of the night to scare and berate her. On December 31, 1993, while Scripps slept, she was bludgeoned with a hammer by Douglas. Scripps's daughter Anne had called the police on January 1, 1994, at 3:30 a.m., because she was unable to get into contact with her mother or Douglas. The police arrived and knocked down the locked door, and found Scripps unconscious in bed, her sheets soaked in blood, her terrier puppy next to her trying to comfort her. Across the hall Tori, then 3 years old, had witnessed the crime that left her mother's skull irreparably broken. Tori Douglas was reported as saying, "Daddy gave Mommy boo-boos. Daddy gave Mommy many boo-boos. Why is Mommy wearing warpaint?" Immediately the police began searching for Scott Douglas. In a matter of hours, Douglas' 1982 BMW was found on the Tappan Zee Bridge with the bloody hammer inside. The authorities dragged the Hudson River for him, but still operated under the assumption he was still alive. As Scripps lay in the hospital, her first husband, Anthony Morrell, who was in the terminal stages of cirrhosis of the liver and had been hospitalized near Philadelphia, left his hospital bed to be at her side. A week after the attack —two days after the authorities stopped dragging the Hudson for Douglas's body—on January 6, 1994 Scripps was taken off life support and died without regaining consciousness. She was 47 years old. After her death, she was able to give her liver, which was transplanted into her ex-husband, Anthony Morrell, saving his life. "Her daughters acted on what they knew would be their mother's wishes," said family attorney, "Anne left this world the way she lived in it-- loving and giving."
In the days after Scripps's death, her family lashed out at the authorities who allowed Scott Douglas to remain in the home. Scripps's mother told the press, "This could have been prevented. My daughter would be alive today, if that judge hadn't let him stay here. I think it's criminal."
The family alleged that the New Rochelle Family Court Judge Ingrid Braslow refused to grant an order barring Douglas from the house in spite of the assertions that he beat Anne and tried to shove her from the car. However, court documents show that these allegations relate to the 1991 case that was not before Braslow. The transcript of the December 6 hearing shows Braslow was not asked to remove Douglas. The Scripps family later filed an $11-million suit against the county.
Three months after Anne Scripps' death, there was a break in the case when a railroad employee found the corpse of a man in jeans washed ashore in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Dental records identified the corpse as Scott Douglas. The Scripps family met the news with relief. "It was a surprise, but the nightmare is over," stated Anne Morrell. "We don't have to worry anymore about him coming after us or Tori," said Alexandra Morrell.
The Scripps family went on to rebuild their lives, the holidays forever marked by the violence of that New Year's Eve. Authorities re-examined the "system" that failed Anne Scripps Douglas and made changes. The modifications that the Westchester County made dealt with domestic violence would prevent a similar occurrence from happening, authorities hoped. Scripps's ex-husband Anthony Morrell died in 2005.
Suicide of daughter Annie Morrell
On September 25, 2009, the Huffington Post stated the New York State Police believe that Annie Morrell Petrillo, daughter of slain newspaper heiress Anne Scripps Douglas with first husband Anthony Morrell, had jumped to her death from the same bridge her stepfather Scott Douglas jumped from on January 1, 1994, after murdering his wife. Police were searching the Hudson River near the Tappan Zee Bridge around 25 miles north of Manhattan for the body of Anne Morrell Petrillo. Authorities state they found a note and believe she got out of her car and jumped off the bridge the evening of September 24. On September 27, the police state they found a body in the Hudson River that they believed to be that of Anne Morrell Petrillo. According to a witness, she stopped her car on the Tappan Zee Bridge and got out and jumped. The contents of the suicide note were released by an interview on the ABC show 20/20 in 2010. Family friends state that Annie never got over the senseless tragedy of her mother's murder and she had been hospitalized several times for depression. At the time of Annie's death, she was finalizing a divorce and had a son, Michael.