The Army has confirmed a solider is being charged with homicide for the fatal stabbing of his wife at a base near Tacoma, Washington, in August.
Adding tragedy to tragedy, Sgt. Robert S. Chiaravallotti, a onetime Irvine resident and longtime musician, is also accused of raping and stabbing the forehead of one of the five children of his wife Dionne Elizabeth Chiaravallotti, a former Newport Beach and Huntington Beach resident who dreamed of becoming a chef.
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The crimes happened Aug. 25 at Joint Base
Lewis-McChord, which is about nine miles from Tacoma. The Army's charging document was signed Sept. 7. It is being reported now because the Tacoma News Tribune and other Washington state media outlets just obtained the paperwork confirming what the deceased woman's mother previously told them: The Chiaravallottis were the couple at the center of the tragedy.
Here's what can be pieced together based on the accounts of the Army, Dionne Chiaravallotti's mother Teresa Glowacki, the Tacoma-area media and online sources: Robert Chiaravallotti hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Irvine and Arizona are among the places he later lived. He and Dionne
Chiaravallotti had both resided in El Centro and Bremerton, Washington, their last
known address. Old clippings from a Naval Air Facility El Centro
newspaper show a Robert Chiaravallotti wrote for the publication.
Dionne Chiaravallotti, 39, had five children with Robert and two previous husbands, according to her mother, who reported the youngest just entered kindergarten and the oldest is 18. Dionne spent a year with a relative in Huntington Beach while her husband served in Afghanistan. She reunited with Sgt. Chiaravallotti in June 2011 at Joint Base
Lewis-McChord and planned to join him on his next assignment in South Korea with the Eighth Army Band.
Three months before the slaying, the Army website's home page featured a story on Heavy Left, a heavy metal band composed of Joint Base
Lewis-McChord soldiers that included Sgt. Chiaravallotti on bass. Here is video of the band performing:
The story by Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord of the Army's 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment fills in the details about how Chiaravallotti bounced around between cities and branches of service.
Inspired by a military band he saw perform in Philadelphia, Chiaravallotti joined the Marine Corps as a bandsman. He spent four years with the Corps before transitioning to the Navy, where he spent the next nine years before joining the Army as a musician in 2008.
“It's more than a hobby, man,” he reportedly said during a rehearsal break before an April 27 show for Eureka High School students in Eureka, Calif. “This is pretty much my life–my livelihood–right here.”
The rest of Chiaravallotti's life may be spent in military prison, if he is convicted. He is charged with murder, rape of a child and assault of a child, with the killing and assault involving stabbings, according to the Army
The sergeant faces an Article 32 hearing scheduled for
December, when an Army judicial officer will recommend whether the case
should go forward or be modified.
Some of Dionne Chiaravallotti's ashes were spread by friends and family members in the ocean about a mile off the Newport Beach elementary school she attended as a child. Despite raising a large family, she managed to obtain her GED and finish culinary school. She dreamed of becoming a chef and sampling cuisine in Italy.
She would have turned 40 on Thanksgiving.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.