PHILADELPHIA — Former Marines who served with a Pennsylvania man who killed his ex-wife and five of her relatives before committing suicide said he fought constantly with his wife during the time they knew him.
Adam Perone and Robert Groover said they served with Bradley Stone in Pennsylvania, trained with him in California and deployed to Iraq with him in 2008.
Stone complained frequently about his then-wife, Nicole Stone, they said. Stone could often be heard on the phone yelling at her when they were in the U.S., Groover said. And when they were deployed in Ramadi, he said Stone would often wander off with a communal cellphone and come back angry.
Stone's violent rampage in communities near Philadelphia happened before dawn Monday. The 35-year-old was found dead Tuesday of self-inflicted stab wounds near his home in Pennsburg, a week after he lost a custody battle with his ex-wife.
Perone said he does not want people to think that Stone's experience in the Marines was the main reason for his rampage.
"These veterans come back, 99.9 percent of them are doing the right thing. They're changing their lives for the better," said Perone, now a sales manager at an international trading firm in Somerset, New Jersey. "Something like this takes away from these people."
Groover, a social worker in Pittsburgh, said he served with Stone in Ramadi.
The job, he said, was not stressful. It involved mostly watching a computer monitor during a four-hour shift to track missiles.
The base, he said, was safe enough to go running. He said it took a few hits from missiles, but those were only after Stone had returned to the U.S.
Groover said he was not shocked to hear Stone inflicted violence on his ex-wife.
Stone spared his two daughters, but authorities said he broke into three homes early Monday and killed his ex-wife, her mother, her grandmother, her sister, her brother-in-law and her 14-year-old niece. A 17-year-old nephew survived by barricading himself in the third floor of his home, but not before he suffered a skull fracture.
Stone's body was found the next afternoon a half-mile from his home in Pennsburg, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, ending a day-and-a-half manhunt.
Stone and his ex-wife had been fighting over their children's custody since she filed for divorce in 2009. He filed an emergency request for custody this month but a judge rejected his petition on Dec. 9.
Mulvihill reported from Haddonfield, N.J.