Man, 81, held stabbing of wife, 87 — (Boston Globe)

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Boston Globe

 By Raphael Lewis and Douglas Belkin, Globe Staff


WAKEFIELD – In the second bloody incident since Christmas to shock this normally peaceful town, an 81-year-old grandfather whose neighbors said he was ”as nice a man as you’ll ever meet” was jailed early yesterday on charges that he allegedly stabbed his 87-year-old wife in the face, torso, and arms while she slept.

Anthony Dalesandro – a frail, hard-of-hearing retiree – was arraigned in Malden District Court on charges of armed assault with intent to murder. He pleaded not guilty and was held on $10,000 cash bail. A pretrial conference was scheduled for next Thursday.

Police, who said they had recovered a bloody kitchen knife at the couple’s home on Fosters Lane, said that Dalesandro called them shortly after 1 a.m. and admitted to the stabbing, saying it was the culmination of an argument earlier in the evening.

Police found Frances Dalesandro, the defendant’s wife of about 50 years, lying on their bedroom floor, moaning and covered in blood. She was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she underwent surgery and was listed in fair but stable condition, officials said.

Dalesandro, who had no prior arrest record, was described by neighbors as a kindly gentleman who generally remained indoors. Some said that the only times they had seen Dalesandro in the past few months was when he was taken away in an ambulance for a variety of health problems related to his heart, a childhood bout with polio, and acute arthritis.

Dalesandro’s wife was the more active and fit of the two, neighbors said. They said that she does the family shopping and acts as her husband’s caretaker.
”She could push him over with one arm,” said Phyllis Picardi, 71, a neighbor who has known the Dalesandros for 45 years. ”She’s the one who took the car.  He never drives anymore.  She had a little arthritis herself, but she goes right up the front steps, not like me, one at a time.”

Picardi’s son, Robert, said that a few weeks ago he had rushed across the snowy street, barefoot, to help Anthony Dalesandro, who had fallen in the backyard of the couple’s tidy, white colonial.   ”He’s so unstable physically,” Picardi said. ”His whole body is like a twig. I’m looking for an excuse for him maybe, but this is hard to believe. I can’t help but feel bad for him too.”  Matthew Campbell, Dalesandro’s attorney, told Judge Bonnie H. MacLeod that the defendant takes several medications, including Prozac.

MacLeod, apparently skeptical of the relevance of that information, said: ”I don’t think we want to be taking a poll on how many people in this gathering are taking Prozac. If we did, we might be surprised.”
It was only two weeks ago that Michael M. McDermott, who was also taking Prozac, allegedly gunned down seven co-workers in a Wakefield office. Dalesandro’s neighbors said the two incidents have shaken their image of the town.

”We’re getting all the bad news here,” said Roy Turcote, 71, who lives next door to the Dalesandros. ”I just can’t believe it. It’s one thing to see it on TV, and it’s another to see it next door. I just can’t believe it.”
Neighbors and those who frequent the quiet, residential street said they had never seen or heard the Dalesandros argue.

”They just seem like nice, normal people,” said Joe Dandreo, who has delivered mail for the US Postal Service to Fosters Lane for 13 years. ”This whole thing is mind-boggling to me.”
Phyllis Picardi said the couple had always appeared loving to her.

”It’s funny; yesterday, I saw [Anthony] out fiddling with his truck,” she said. ”It was the first time I saw him in a long time. [Frances] was standing behind the window, making sure he was all right.”
This story ran on page B02 of the Boston Globe on 1/11/2001.

© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.