‘Savagery of these crimes’ pushed investigators to find Peter Manfredonia
A manhunt that lasted six days and spanned four states for a University of Connecticut student wanted for two homicides and other crimes ended with a bit of luck.
Connecticut state police Detective Michael Zella was informing a U.S. marshal of the description of Peter Manfredonia, a Newtown High School grad who had been on the run since last Friday, when he turned and the 23-year-old was standing a few feet away from them near a Maryland truck stop Wednesday night.
The man standing nearby matched the description investigators had for Manfredonia, right down to his red sneakers, according to Lt. Michael Pendleton, commanding officer of the Connecticut state police’s central district.
Pendleton said Manfredonia surrendered without incident.
“At that point, he went to the ground, he did not resist, and absolutely no force was used to effect the arrest,” Pendleton said Thursday during a news conference outside the state police headquarters in Middletown.
Pendleton said police recovered a weapon in a black bag “approximately 200 yards away from where the arrest occurred,” but he declined to say what type of weapon was recovered. State police on Wednesday night had said the weapon was a gun similar to the one used in the Derby homicide.
Manfredonia waived extradition to Connecticut during a court appearance Thursday in Maryland. Pendleton said it was not immediately known when Manfredonia will return to Connecticut and what charges he will face.
Pendleton declined to comment on the motive for the crime spree, which police said included homicides in Willington and Derby as well as a home invasion and kidnapping.
He also declined to say whether state police have interviewed Manfredonia since his arrest, and if police were previously notified that he may have been a danger to others.
Pendleton said police were aided in their pursuit by Manfredonia using Uber for parts of his time on the run.
He said the warrant for Manfredonia’s arrest will likely be released “down the road,” but did not offer a timeline.
“We talked to all the family members of the victims,” Pendleton said. “They were very appreciative of our efforts and bringing him to justice.”
Special Agent David Sundberg, head of the New Haven field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, offered his condolences to the victims and their families for what he called “senseless acts of violence.”
“We are very, very proud to have been part of a collaborative law enforcement team that worked to find Mr. Manfredonia and take him into custody without any further violence,” Sundberg said.
Manfredonia, who is being held without bond, appeared in court Thursday via video because of the coronavirus pandemic on a fugitive from justice charge in Washington District Court in Hagerstown, Md.
Michael Dolan, attorney for Manfredonia, said he spoke with his client Wednesday night after he was arrested.
“He was exhausted and scared,” Dolan said.
The search for Manfredonia, a University of Connecticut senior, ended Wednesday night near a truck stop in Hagerstown.
The massive manhunt involved the FBI, law enforcement from four states and local police departments in Connecticut.
“All of us our extremely saddened by the loss of life of two Connecticut residents, the severe injury of an elderly person, the terror inflicted upon countless others,” said Col. Stavros Mellekas, commanding officer of the Connecticut state police.
“The savagery of these crimes propelled our detectives to commit themselves to finding this individual as quickly as possible.”
A source close to the investigation said Manfredonia was on his way to see his former girlfriend in Willington last Friday when his motorcycle broke down. Willington resident Theodore DeMers offered Manfredonia a ride on his four-wheeler when police say the 62-year-old man was fatally attacked with an “edged” weapon.
John Franco, 80, was critically injured in the attack when he came to help his neighbor. Alice Franco told Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday that her husband, who grew up in Trumbull and is a U.S. Navy veteran, is now in stable condition.
On Sunday, Manfredonia is also suspected in the killing of Nicholas Eisele, a 23-year-old former Newtown High School classmate who lived in Derby. Eisele died from gunshot wounds to the head, the state’s medical examiner said.
Manfredonia could face a number of interstate crime charges involving the alleged kidnapping of Eisele’s girlfriend who police say he took from the Derby home. The woman was found unharmed Sunday afternoon at a New Jersey rest stop near the Pennsylvania border.