DADE CITY — The Scotts' marriage had been strained for some time, according to friends and family members. But in the month leading up to Terry Wayne Scott's decision to kill his wife and then himself, authorities say, things unraveled quickly.
In early April, Veronica Scott discovered her husband of 10 years was cheating on her.
A few weeks later, Zephyrhills police showed up at the couple's 2-acre pasture on Mount Vernon Road to investigate whether Terry Wayne Scott was stealing items from his job at Advance Auto Parts and selling the goods on eBay.
His wife cooperated with investigators, and Terry Wayne Scott, 59, was charged April 17 with grand theft — his first arrest.
Five days later, Veronica Scott, 48, filed for divorce.
Veronica Scott's relatives say years of emotional abuse and the discovery of her husband's infidelity led her to file for divorce. They say she feared her husband, who often isolated himself and avoided his wife's family gatherings.
But they say they never expected him to kill her.
"She'd been unhappy for a long, long time," said Cindy Barthle, 46, Veronica's sister. "Part of what made him crack is that he's a control freak, and she never stood up to him."
Pasco County Sheriff's deputies came to the couple's home Saturday night after co-workers were concerned that Veronica Scott missed her shift at Pasco Regional Medical Center, where she was an administrative supervisor.
They found husband and wife in the garage, both dead of gunshot wounds.
• • •
On April 17, Zephyrhills police met Veronica Scott at the couple's home. The manager at the auto parts store where Terry Wayne Scott worked had reported a "huge inventory loss" at the store.
Inside the garage of the Scotts' home, the report said, police found a blue cooler filled with new auto parts from the store, including a fuel pump, a propane tank and packs of batteries.
Terry Wayne Scott also stored items in Veronica Scott's 2008 Toyota Tacoma truck, the report said, and used her name as the sender of the items, which he sold on eBay.
A few months earlier, his son told police, he asked Terry Wayne Scott where all the auto parts came from.
"Five-finger discount," was the reply.
• • •
Veronica Scott was born in San Francisco and grew up in Dade City. She was the oldest of five children. Her family runs Roberts Vault Company in Dade City.
Terry Wayne Scott was her fourth husband.
Veronica Scott had two sons. One, a teenager, was adopted by Terry Wayne Scott, and lived with the couple.
Terry Wayne Scott had been married once before, and had an adult son and a teen daughter.
Veronica Scott's mother, Donna Roberts, said her daughter loved horses and owned four.
She said her daughter loved her job at the Dade City hospital, where she was awarded a Nurse of the Year honor in 2003. She was chosen from a pool of 90 nurses.
Donna Roberts said her daughter had grown to fear her husband.
"It's unbelievable, but knowing him, we were expecting him to do something bad," she said. "She said he wouldn't hurt her, but we thought he was violent."
Amanda Martin, assistant chief nursing officer at the hospital, had worked with Veronica Scott since 1996.
"She was a great friend and confidante that you could talk to," she said. "I can't say in words how much she'll be a loss to our facility."
Martin said she knew of her co-worker's troubles with Terry Wayne Scott.
"He put her through a lot for a long time," she said. "She would tell stories of how she wanted out. He was very verbally abusive."
Ronnie Bearden, 51, Veronica Scott's ex-husband and father of her oldest son, said his ex-wife enjoyed outdoor activities like camping and fishing.
"She liked to go to the firing range with me," said the retired sheriff's deputy, who lives in Georgia. "She could shoot a gun as good as I could."
The two split amicably in the early '80s, and Veronica Scott moved to Florida. Their son stayed with Bearden in Georgia.
Once, Bearden said, their son was hospitalized in an ICU after a bad car accident. Veronica and Terry Wayne Scott stopped by the hospital, Bearden said.
"He didn't want her to stay (at the hospital) at all," Bearden said. "She said she was scared of him. Every time they got into an argument, he said she wasn't leaving him."
Veronica Scott's brother, Steve Roberts, 41, said his sister's husband didn't want her around her family, and avoided family gatherings.
He said Terry Wayne Scott should have dealt with his problems instead of taking his life and his wife's.
"Instead of facing what he had coming to him," Steve said, "he took the cowardly way out."
• • •
Last month, Veronica Scott discovered her husband was cheating after she found love letters to other women, Steve Roberts said.
She talked to her attorney and officials at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office about filing a restraining order, said her sister, Cindy Barthle, but records show one was never filed.
On Monday, Barthle thought about an upcoming trip out-of-state that Veronica Scott planned to take with her mom and sister.
Now, says Barthle, "it just feels like a nightmare."
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Camille C. Spencer can be reached at (813) 909-4609 or email@example.com.