- Associated Press - Monday, October 22, 2012

MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin man terrorized his wife for years, threatening to throw acid on her face, dousing her car with tomato juice and slashing her vehicle’s tires before finally going to the spa where she worked, opening fire and killing her and two others.

The shooting spree stunned the middle- to upper-class Milwaukee suburb where it happened, but court records show the conflict between Radcliffe Haughton and his wife had been escalating for years.

The 45-year-old former car salesman ultimately shot seven women at the spa before turning the gun on himself. Three remained hospitalized Monday.

Haughton, of Brown Deer, was charged with disorderly conduct last year after police officers responding to a 911 call saw Haughton point what appeared to be a gun at his wife, Zina, from a window at their home. Officers took cover, and a 90-minute standoff ensued.

Brown Deer police said Monday the standoff ended peacefully, and they were never able to confirm a gun was involved because Mrs. Haughton wouldn’t allow them into the couple’s home. The charge against Haughton was dropped when a police officer failed to appear in court.

According to court records, Mrs. Haughton told police when she called 911 that her husband had thrown her clothes and bedding into the yard and poured tomato juice on her car.

Ernest J. Polk, who lives across the street from the Haughtons’ home, said they were friendly to him but he saw signs of turmoil.

“There was always confrontation over there, but I never thought it would come to this,” he said. “It was mostly verbal. I didn’t see anything physical.”

Mrs. Haughton told police last year that her husband didn’t own any guns, but she was concerned enough about her safety to get a police escort when she went to the house earlier this month to pick up a few items.

Mrs. Haughton wrote in restraining order request filed Oct. 8 that her husband had threatened to kill her if she ever left him. He also, at various times, threatened to throw acid on her face and burn her and her family with gas.

“His threats terrorize my every waking moment,” she wrote.

She said when she drove to work after picking up items from her home, she found her husband waiting for her in a car outside the spa. He leaned out of the vehicle and, in front of her and two co-workers, slashed her vehicle’s tires. He was later arrested.

Haughton appeared in court Thursday, when a judge issued a four-year restraining order and told him to turn in all firearms to a county sheriff. It’s not clear whether he turned in any weapons.

He bought the .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun used in the shootings on Saturday, Brown Deer police said in a statement.

People who buy handguns from gun dealers must wait 48 hours after they have cleared a background check from the Department of Justice to pick up their firearm. There is no such waiting period or background check required in Wisconsin for people who purchase handguns from private individuals, which police say Haughton did.

The shooting spree also killed Cary Robuck, a 35-year-old nail technician from Racine, and Maelyn Lind, 38, of Oconomowoc.

Shawn Scheffler, who had lived with Ms. Robuck for six years, described her as a “bright personality” who loved her part-time job at the spa.

“She was my world,” he said. “That was the woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and she was taken from me just like that.”

Kathy Sieja, a spokeswoman at the hospital where the survivors were taken, said one woman was released from the hospital Monday afternoon and the others were in satisfactory condition.

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