Behind Closed Doors, Abuse Caught on Tape


The physical violence intensified between Susan and Ulner.

"As markings on the calendar got closer and closer together and more frequent, then it just became clearer that I wasn't necessarily making a mountain out of a molehill," Jasper said.

Susan Confronted

On May 23, 2003, Jasper noted "Bruise/Susan" in her datebook.

Susan arrived to work an hour late with makeup piled on, attempting to cover her bruises.

Jasper immediately noticed a large bruise on Susan's face from a beating.

Jasper decided to finally confront Susan, saying, "'I think there's something you want to tell me, and I need you to know that it's OK to do that.' And she did. She just started to cry, and we had gone into a room privately, and I closed the blinds. She told me a lot of what was going on. But you know what? [It was] not even close to the whole story, not even close to how bad it was."

Later, Jasper found a letter in her desk drawer from Susan -- a final warning and a farewell in case anything happened.

"If anything should happen to me or if I should turn up missing, it is possible my husband was involved," the letter said. "I love you so much, my children. Please forgive me for the things you have seen in your young life. … Know you were loved by your mother."

Jasper was so upset by this letter -- a mother bidding farewell to her children -- that she alerted local police.

Susan was falling apart, saying, "He had literally, physically and mentally beat me down to nothing. I thought I was not as good as a piece of dirt on his shoe."

The Breaking Point

A month later, Susan hit her breaking point.

It was the day Ulner instructed their 13-year-old son to videotape the verbal and physical assault upon her.

The horrifying tape lasts 51 minutes as the rants get louder and more violent.

"You don't even look at me with that stupid look on your face. Don't you get tired of that [expletive]," Ulner yells.

"Zoom in on that heifer," Ulner directs his son. "Zoom in. Do you see a tear?"

He continues to yell, "You don't know what to do. Look at your stupid [expletive]. Look at the way you look!"

Ulner makes his son videotape what he considers to be his justifiable anger at his wife, and at the end of the tape -- after what seems like endless verbal abuse -- Ulner slaps, beats and strangles his wife with their younger children as witnesses.

Later that night, Ulner played the tape for his family as an instructional video to teach his wife and children a lesson about the flaws of their mother.

"The whole family had to sit and watch that night," said Lisa Bloch Rodwin, an assistant district attorney for Erie County, N.Y. "And then dad would stop it, pause it, and say, 'Do you see what she did wrong? Do you see how she made me do this to her?'"

Susan now knew she had to get her children and herself away from Ulner.

The next day, Susan planned her escape at work.

The Escape

"When Susan walked in the next day, she was beaten and marked worse than I have ever seen," Jasper said. "I remember saying to her, 'It's gotta stop. Today's the day.'"

Susan replied, "Today's the day."

With the help of the Amherst, N.Y., police, Susan and her two sons escaped and entered a shelter.

Susan's oldest daughter chose to return home to her father.

Susan headed to court to face Ulner.

Rodwin, who also was chief of the Prosecutor's Office's Domestic Violence Bureau, gathered the evidence.

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