Strafford Man Kills Himself After Sexual Assault

Front Page / Dec. 1, 2005 12:00am EST

Strafford Man Kills Himself After Sexual Assault

Strafford Man Kills Himself After Sexual Assault

Norwich police said a 43-year-old Strafford man who had abducted and "violently sexually assaulted" his former girlfriend early Monday morning fatally shot himself later that day, as two state police troopers approached his home.

Douglas Fifield, a lifelong Strafford resident, had no prior criminal record, police said, but the un-named victim had sought a "relief from abuse" order against Fifield one month before Monday’s assault.

Most recently employed by Dartmouth College as a maintenance worker, Fifield was Strafford’s road foreman in the 1990s.

Police learned of the assault mid-morning Monday, while the 48-year-old victim was being treated at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for injuries and trauma sustained during the assault.

Police said the woman reported that she was on her way to work, on River Road in Norwich, when Fifield jumped into the road, in front of her car. He forced his way into the driver’s seat, and drove to a secluded road in Norwich, according to a release issued by Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson.

There, Fifield allegedly raped the woman, and threatened to kill himself if she reported the attack. Police said the woman was able to convince Fifield to let her go, and he drove back to where he had left his truck.

The victim reported to police that she saw Fifield handle a rifle, inside the cab. According to the terms of the relief-from-abuse order, Fifield was to have a gun only when he was hunting, and only if he had not consumed alcohol or drugs.

After talking to the woman, Norwich police alerted state police to be on the lookout for Fifield, who was described as armed and suicidal.

Early Monday afternoon, as two troopers from the Royalton barracks approached Fifield’s home, on Old City Falls Road in Strafford, they heard a gunshot.

According to a release from Chief Robinson, Fifield had walked out the back door of the house and shot himself, before the officers had a chance to contact him.

The violent events of Monday morning were presaged on Oct. 18, when Fifield pulled his truck in front of his ex-girlfriend’s car, on Route 132 in Union Village. She was on her way to work at the time, police said.

According to her request for an emergency relief-from-abuse order, filed Oct. 28, Fifield forcibly entered her home a few days after the Oct. 18 incident.

She wrote that Fifield was also harassing her via a flood of phone calls, emails, and visits at work. She also reported that Fifield was drinking regularly, and had physically and sexually abused her.

She was, she wrote, "afraid for my life, and my son’s life, and my animals."

She obtained a temporary order Oct. 28, and a permanent order on Nov. 8.

In addition to the gun restrictions, Fifield was ordered to vacate the victim’s home, a short drive from the Fifield residence in Strafford. He was also ordered to stay 300 feet away from the woman, her residence, her vehicle, and her place of work.

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