Ellen Robb, 49, was bludgeoned beyond recognition in the kitchen of her home in Wayne. The wounds were so severe that veteran detectives thought she had been shot until an autopsy proved otherwise.
The Robbs, long estranged but still in the same house, were on the verge of separating, according to friends and relatives quoted in the affidavit. Ellen Robb had retained a divorce lawyer, they said, and was planning to move into a $1,500-per-month apartment by New Year’s Day. According to a real estate agent who had met with her, Ellen Robb said she expected to receive $4,000 in monthly support from her husband.
The search warrant affidavit, quoting two mental-health experts, calls the killing a “blitz attack” by someone with “a need to depersonalize Ms. Robb such that she is hardly recognizable as a human being.”
That did not square, Castor said, with Rafael Robb’s explanation that his wife had likely been killed by a burglar who broke through the glass of a rear door.
Burglars rarely enter occupied homes, Castor said, and generally flee if confronted.
Nothing appeared to be stolen from the house, the affidavit said. The broken back-door window “appears staged,” the affidavit says, since the shattered glass on the floor had not been trod upon.
It is likely that the sound of the window shattering would have alarmed Ellen Robb, who instead appeared to have been wrapping Christmas presents when attacked. The affidavit also questions whether a burglar would have taken time to restrain the family’s dog, which was found closed in a bedroom.
“He told the police dispatcher that he believed she was dead because her head was cracked,” Castor said. “That is very significant to me,” given the initial impression of investigators that she had been shot.
“He has both motive and opportunity,” Castor said, “and right now he has a lot of explaining to do.”