Lawyer: Family of Julie Minogue, Milford woman killed with ax, to sue the city and police

Photo of Ethan Fry

MILFORD – The family of a Milford woman killed in a December ax attack plans to sue the city for not preventing her “gruesome and premeditated” death.

In letters sent on behalf of the father of 40-year-old Julie Minogue and one of her three sons, their lawyer noted that she reached out to police several times in the weeks before her death about harassment by Ewen Dewitt, who police say killed her in her Salem Walk condo in front of the couple’s 3-year-old boy, while another son of Minogue’s was also home.

Minogue “feared for her life” due to the harassment, the lawyer, Michael Rosnick, wrote in a Feb. 28 notice announcing the family’s intention to file a lawsuit against the city, police department, and an officer who had been assigned to investigate her case.

The alleged harassment included more than 200 text messages Dewitt had sent to Minogue in the weeks before the killing – while charges were still pending against him in connection with a 2019 incident during which he had drunkenly thrown a playpen at her head, causing a wound requiring five staples to close.

“Despite the foregoing, the Proposed Defendants failed to take action timely to obtain an arrest warrant and/or to arrest Mr. Dewitt, who was in violation of a protective order at the time of the killing,” Rosnick wrote in the notice, which describes the homicide as “particularly gruesome and premeditated.”

According to authorities, the officer assigned to the case, Scott Knablin, prepared an arrest warrant for Dewitt, but it was returned by a prosecutor seeking additional, unspecified information, and not submitted again prior to Minogue’s death. After the homicide, Knablin was put on leave pending an internal investigation.

While the 2019 case was pending in court, Dewitt was also arrested in North Carolina for drunkenly assaulting a female paramedic. 

“Unfortunately, Ms. Minogue’s death was preventable,” the notice says. “Mr. Dewitt had a long history of violent behavior against Ms. Minogue and others, all of which was known, or should have been known, to the Proposed Defendants.”

The city’s attorney and Mayor Ben Blake did not respond to messages seeking comment.

At a vigil days after the killing, Blake held back tears as he discussed the devastation of losing a member of Milford’s “tight-knit community” and offered his condolences to Minogue’s friends and family. 

"We should support three sons that no longer have a mother throughout their lives," he said. 

In a prepared statement, Rosnick said Friday that Minogue’s family “has suffered a heartbreaking loss that hurts to their souls.”

“They feel that the loss of Julie was fully preventable if everyone involved had performed their duties in accordance with the law and the rules, regulations, orders and protocols of their respective jobs,” he said.

The notice sent to the city – to satisfy procedural requirements in state laws governing how and when municipalities can be sued – does not cite a specific amount of damages sought, but says they include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of love and affection.

“The family intends to make its best efforts to hold accountable those who failed to perform their respective duties,” Rosnick said. “In addition, they hope that this case will serve as a vehicle to provide better protections to those who are at risk from domestic violence and abuse.”