Editor’s Note: This story contains strong language and discussion of violence.
CHESHIRE — The day before her youngest child was stabbed to death, Linda Tatro saw what it looked like when her daughter’s husband became enraged.
Luis Rosado leaned forward from a chair on her home’s front porch in Cheshire, and screamed. “If you ever f---ing leave me, I will f---ing kill you,” she said she heard him say to her daughter.
It wasn’t the first time Linda Tatro saw Rosado angry. It would be the last.
In interviews and statements this week, family and friends provided the first full public accounting of Jillian Tatro’s last days and of her brief marriage to a man who she at first believed offered her security. But they allege that Rosado’s violence and drug use quickly shattered that sense of safety. In her last months, Tatro knew she needed to find an escape, friends and family say.
She tried to protect herself, including through the use of a court’s order that lapsed over a month before she died. Her death has left family and friends wondering how this tragedy might have been avoided — and what might have been done through the legal system and the community to save her.
During a two-hour interview this week, Linda Tatro explained that on the Friday before her daughter’s murder, the couple had gotten into a verbal fight. Jillian discovered Rosado, who is 49, was using drugs again. Jillian Tatro told Rosado to get out of the home. When he didn’t, she called the police.
In the presence of officers, Rosario’s belongings were collected and packed into a cab, which he left in, bound for Pittsfield.
In the family’s kitchen at the Cheshire home, sympathy cards sit propped on a table near the door. In the living room, a bouquet of red roses and white carnations sits on a coffee table.
Linda Tatro struggles to understand how it is that the man who used to call her “mama,” and who professed his love for Jillian and her family, stands accused of killing her daughter. Rosado pleaded not guilty June 3 to a single count of murder in Tatro’s death. He was ordered held without bail before trial.
That’s the same man, Linda Tatro says, who used to cook meals in her kitchen and wore a gold rosary around his neck.
Jennifer Tatro thinks her little sister gravitated to Rosado because she felt, in some sense, that Rosado could protect her. In Jillian, she thinks Rosado found someone he thought he could control. “He was very manipulative,” Jennifer Tatro said.
Early signs of violence
Jillian Tatro and Rosado met last fall. Linda Tatro now believes Rosado began to abuse her daughter within a month or two. At a vigil this week, friends said they had seen bruising on her face. In March, Jillian Tatro sought and obtained a protective order against Rosado from Northern Berkshire District Court.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Brown, who is representing Rosado in the murder case the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office brought against him in connection with Tatro’s death, declined to comment for this article.
Jillian Tatro had worked hard to achieve independence, her family members say. As a child, she worked with her mother at a local bingo hall, running food that her mother cooked out to patrons. It was also where she met Kristen McLain, who would become one of her lifelong friends.
There had been discord in her childhood home. Linda Tatro said the man who would become her first husband had threatened to harm her family if they didn’t marry. She thinks Rosado issued a similar threat toward her daughter.
“She was afraid of him. She was intimidated,” Linda Tatro said.
When the couple married without fanfare in January, Jennifer Tatro wonders why her sister, 10 years younger, had decided to enmesh herself with Rosado after working hard to achieve her independence — and turning down proposals in the past. No one from the family was invited to the ceremony, Linda Tatro said, or knew about the wedding until it was over.
Jillian Tatro had prized independence. She become legally emancipated at age 16, her family members say, and became pregnant with her first child. She moved into her own place at Dower Square Apartments in Pittsfield.
McLain had a son around that same time and the two young mothers raised their children in tandem. She said Jillian’s daughter gave her friend new meaning and purpose in life: She “absolutely loved it.”
Jillian Tatro worked as a personal care assistant, the seeds of which family said were sown as early as age 9, when she would help massage her grandfather’s asbestos-damaged lungs, after his shifts at the General Electric Co. in Pittsfield.
She grew into a fashionista and liked stylish clothes and perfumes. She was a social chameleon, Linda Tatro said, and could fit in with nearly anyone. Jillian Tatro loved dogs and horses, and went on to have a second child, a son.
A volatile relationship
The relationship Jillian Tatro formed with her new husband was often volatile, fluctuating from the good — newlyweds cooking dinner in the Cheshire kitchen — to the dangerous, her family says.
When a conflict would erupt between the two at Linda Tatro’s home, Jillian often told her mother to go into her room, her mother said. Jillian Tatro served as Linda’s caregiver, and did everything for her, as Linda uses a walker and has limited mobility. Jillian Tatro split her time between her mother’s house and her own apartment in North Adams.
Jillian was also protective. When asked about signs of abuse in her relationship with Rosado, she would at times respond along the lines of, “I got this,” McLain said.
“She felt like she had to go along with his requests,” said Jennifer Tatro. “In her mind, she was protecting other people, her family.”
McLain said that even when her best friend was physically away from Rosado, he kept close tabs on her. He would call and check up on her repeatedly, behavior McLain described as stalking.
“There’s no other way to put it, he was stalking her,” said Linda Tatro. “Constant intimidation keeps them under their control.”
On March 11, Rosado called state police to Linda Tatro’s Cheshire home and accused Jillian Tatro of hitting him. He admitted to a trooper that he was on probation for domestic violence, and also confirmed that a cut on his face had been sustained from shaving.
The trooper arrested Jillian Tatro nonetheless, according to the trooper’s report, after kicking in the front door of the home. The arrest resulted in a court case against Jillian — the second that police agreed to file against her based on a complaint from her husband. Rosado had a documented history of domestic abuse, and was previously incarcerated in New York for assault.
The Berkshire DA’s office said in 2020 that Rosado pleaded guilty to strangulation and other charges related to the domestic assault of another victim, whom he intimidated in recorded phone calls from jail not to testify against him. He was sentenced to one year in jail.
On March 14, three days after state police arrested her at her mother’s Cheshire home, Jillian Tatro obtained an abuse prevention order in an effort to keep Rosado away from her.
In a sworn affidavit, she said Rosado “lies, terrorizes me and hurts me physically then has me falsely arrested due to him injuring himself.”
She told the court at the time she was petrified and that her marriage was dangerous for her. Rosado was “amazing sober,” she wrote, but had started using drugs heavily just weeks after they married in early January.
At this point, she said he was “very unstable and unpredictable.” She said he had punched her and choked her. Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said recently that choking is a warning sign of a future domestic violence homicide.
“I am in fear for my life at this point, I don’t know who to turn to anymore,” Tatro wrote in an affidavit. “I have a family to protect, as well as myself.”
The court granted a temporary abuse prevention order, but it expired after Tatro didn’t show up to a subsequent hearing. Her sister Jennifer and mother believe Rosado took Jillian out of town so the couple would miss the hearing. They went on vacation.
Linda Tatro said protections must be strengthened for victims who, for whatever reason, fail to appear for the follow-up hearing after disclosing abuse at the hands of another.
“The law needs to change if they don’t show up ... you go check on that person,” she said. “People have to do something; you can’t just sit back and do nothing.”
A deadly weekend
On Friday, May 27, Jillian had found Rosado was using drugs, once again, family said.
During the argument they had on the final Friday of her life, Jillian Tatro stood on the road outside the home her grandparents built on a rural plot around 1948. A row of trees was to her right, near the old enclosure for her horses, Monty, Ruby and Bella.
For weeks, Tatro had been readying to leave Rosado.
Her mother thinks Jillian must have said something to Rosado about how their relationship was soon to end, because she said Rosado leaned forward in his chair on the front porch, and screamed that threat on her life.
Janis Broderick, executive director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center, said the risk of lethality increases 75 percent when a victim prepares to leave their abuser.
“Domestic violence is not about love. It’s about power and control over someone. So when an abuser fears losing that control, they’re more likely to act impulsively and violently,” she said. “There’s a reason that the phrase, ‘If I can’t have you, no one will,’ is so common.”
Broderick said those looking to leave an abusive relationship should contact the Elizabeth Freeman Center, whose experts can help victims discretely develop a plan to escape an abusive situation, arrange for new lodging and supports, and address other considerations, like what to do when children and pets are involved.
After Rosado threatened her daughter’s life, Linda Tatro told him never to speak to Jillian like that again. Rosado left in a cab with his belongings.
Jillian Tatro had an escape plan, her mother and sister say. She was going to go camping with McLain. She went to her apartment in North Adams to pack.
“She was going to escape, to get some air. Get away from him. So he couldn’t find her,” Jennifer Tatro said.
But before she got the chance to leave town with McLain, Rosado was back. He arrived in a cab at her apartment on Charles Street in North Adams about 2 a.m. the next morning, unwanted and uninvited, according to Jennifer Tatro.
He started making a scene outside her apartment, screaming her name and swearing, according to what Jillian Tatro told her mother on a phone call the next day.
Jennifer Tatro said her sister, at that point, did not have faith in the authorities. Not after she believed state police took his word over hers in past domestic incidents.
She let Rosado inside, perhaps believing she could diffuse the situation on her own, family said. Or perhaps believing that doing so was the only option — and not wanting neighbors to be disturbed in the middle of the night.
“Does she have faith in the police?” Jennifer Tatro asked. “Obviously not. Look what they’ve done to her before.”
“She just thought that if she told him what he wanted to hear, if she would let him in, that he would just be calm,” she said.
Next came the phone call from Jillian Tatro to her mother, around 2 p.m. Saturday. Jillian was whispering, and her mother thinks Rosado may still have been in her apartment. They tried to call back, and there was no response.
Jennifer Tatro said Rosado knew what type of behavior he needed to display to persuade Jillian to let him in.
Prosecutors say Rosado stabbed Jillian multiple times in her Charles Street apartment that Saturday, killing her. She was found near the door to her apartment. Her family believes she had been trying to leave.
He was arrested in Pittsfield five days later.
Late in life, Jillian Tatro had grown more interested in being outdoors — reading maps and identifying birds. She was coming into her own, her sister said this week.
“She didn’t know who she was growing up. She was finding herself,” Jennifer Tatro said.
“She was a little Martha Stewart,” said Linda Tatro. “She loved to learn.”
If you’re experiencing domestic violence, call the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s 24/7 toll-free hotline at (866) 401-2425.