Patti Milazzo calls him her “soul mate,”
then gets a protection order
On August 12, 2004, Mark received a phone call at work from the Discover card fraud bureau. They questioned a $2,000 charge that he made on the card that day. But there was one problem-Mark didn’t have a Discover card. Or so he thought.
With Discover still on the line, Mark says, he called Patti on his cell phone. “Do you know anything about this?” he asked her.
At first, Mark says, Patti denied it. But then she admitted forging his signature on a credit card application. When he got home that night, Mark says Patti went through another big crying story, saying she couldn’t handle her bills.
“If you want me to help you again,” Mark said, “I have to know what’s going in and out.” He demanded to see her bank statements. Patti agreed to give him the statements, Mark says, but they were never produced.
In the meantime, Mark decided to divorce his wife. Patti, however, made the first move. On August 25, 2004-right before their seventh wedding anniversary-he came home from work to an empty house.
“She had started going to the neighbors, saying she was scared of me,” Mark says. “She had gotten the neighbors to help her move out.”
The next day, Mark filed a police report about the forged credit card application. Then he found out that Patti had forged his signature for another credit card. He filed another police report.
A few weeks later, both Mark and Patti were at the church they attended-although sitting on opposite sides. “She looked over at me and got all teary-eyed, and then talked to me in the vestibule,” Mark says. “We started seeing each other again. But I knew it was over. I was going through with the divorce.”
On October 8, 2004, the Milazzos signed their divorce agreement. Mark returned to Patti all the money she had put into the property and house—$10,000. “I could have taken that money, but whatever she put into the house or property, I gave it back,” Mark says. “I’m not that kind of person.”
According to Mark, Patti wanted them to keep wearing their wedding rings, and not tell people they were divorced. Patti helped him move new furniture into his house, and was alone with him on many occasions. “She was talking about wanting to work it out,” Mark says.
“She called me on a Tuesday and told me, ‘I love you more than any man. You’re my soul mate,'” Mark says. “The day after that she went and signed a protection order against me.”
The order was dated October 14, 2004. According to Mark, Patti told the police the he had threatened to kill her.
“It was totally bogus,” Mark says. “I had all kinds of witnesses who saw Patti meeting me for lunch and dinner. The neighbor saw her spend the night. I was going to refute that in court easily-she wasn’t scared of me.”
The case never went to court—lawyers worked out a deal. The protection order stayed in place for both Mark and Patti—neither was permitted to see the other.
After their divorce, Mark says he found out that Patti had been telling people throughout their marriage that he was abusive. But Mark says he never laid a finger on Patti, and never threatened her.
“She was so lucky to get away with it,” he says. “No one wanted to interfere with the marriage. My own family that loved me, in a way, was protecting her.”
As a 20-year police veteran, Mark Milazzo considers himself “a professional at being lied to.” Why then, did he stay with his wife for seven years?
“I have a soft heart,” he says. “Every time I would go to leave her, the crocodile tears would come. And on a daily basis, she treated me like gold. If I said, ‘Patti, I forgot my wallet, would you drive 30 miles and bring it to me?’ she would say, ‘Sure.’ She was accommodating.
“She was always writing me cards and letters telling me how much she loved me,” Mark continues. “Always a sweet demeanor. They charm you to keep you under their spell. She would play on my emotions, asking, ‘What about the kids?’ She knew I cared about that stuff.
“I was always willing to deny her behavior to myself. I could not for the life of me understand why someone would do what she did. It was easier for me to come up with a logical explanation. I tried to compare how I live my life and how I treat people-I would never treat people that way, so she can’t possibly treat someone that way. There’s got to be a good reason.”
Mark says that it wasn’t until their divorce was almost final that he looked up “sociopath” on the Internet. He had always thought sociopaths or psychopaths were represented by people like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. “It was chilling,” he says. “Every one of the character traits of a sociopath described what I had seen too many times to count during our relationship. I was ignorant.”
Two months after their divorce, Patti married another man, her sixth husband. She became Patricia Graham.
Order expires so Patti Milazzo calls
The protection order that prohibited contact between Mark and Patti expired on December 8, 2005. On December 27, Patti called Mark at his office, “like nothing had happened,” he says. According to Mark, the conversation went like this:
“What do you want?” Mark asked.
“Do you have any of my winter clothes?” Patti asked.
“I don’t have anything of yours.”
Patti then tried to start a conversation. “So did you have a good Christmas?” she asked.
“I had a good Christmas,” Mark replied, tersely.
Four or five seconds of silence passed. Then Patti Milazzo said goodbye.