Woman found dead in Medford recycling bin applied for restraining order weeks before her death

MEDFORD, Mass. — Barbara Hovey Novaes, the 61-year-old woman whose body was found in a recycling bin underneath a rear porch at her Emery Street home Monday, tried to take out a restraining order against her estranged husband earlier in the month, according to court records.

Authorities do not know how she died, or how she got there.

Barbara Novaes body was discovered at about 8:30 a.m. Monday morning.

The victim’s son first alerted police when he called  two hours earlier, saying he couldn’t  find his mother.

As authorities wait for the medical examiner ruling on how Novaes died, an application for a restraining order provides a chilling glimpse into the victim’s final weeks.

On Friday May 6th, and again on Saturday May 7th, Barbara Novaes wrote that her estranged  husband put her in “fear of imminent serious physical harm.”

She filed the restraining order application on Monday May 9th.

But last Tuesday, May 17th, she requested to withdraw it.

Barbara’s body was found six days later.

In the restraining order application, Novaes complained that her husband would not accept the fact that she was filing for divorce.

She said at 5:00 p.m. on May 6th, he showed up at the house after he was drinking, and he got emotional.

She threatened to call police.

After an argument with his son, the complaint says, the estranged husband left the house at 11:30 p.m. and Barbara Hovey Novaes locked herself in her bedroom.

But at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, she wrote that he was back inside the house, at her locked bedroom door trying to unlock it.

Eventually, Novaes wrote, she convinced her husband to leave before the police arrived.

Later, she had the locks changed, but by noon, her estranged husband was trying to get back in the house, promising he wouldn’t hurt her.

This was not the first time police were called to the house.

According to police logs, on November 16, 2021, police were called twice for reports of suicidal threats.

On April 21st of this year, they responded to a disturbance at the house.

And they were back on May 7th, for the incident described in the restraining order application.

The restraining order was never issued because neither Barbara Hovey Novaes nor her husband showed up in court for hearing.

It is not known if the restraining order application had anything to do with Barbara Hovey Novaes’ death, but the victim wrote the words contained in the application. And it is likely the application and the affidavit are part of this on going investigation.

Novaes was reported missing by her adult son, who was living with her at her Emery Street home. He told police he had not seen his mother since the previous afternoon and thought she had gone to get her nails done.

An officer found Novaes’s body in a recycling bin under the porch around 8:30 a.m. Monday, District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

Authorities do not know how she died, or how she got there.

There were no obvious signs of trauma on Novaes’s body, Ryan said, but investigators are treating her death as suspicious.

Investigators have asked anyone with information about the case to call Medford Police at 781-395-1212.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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