‘It’s time to surrender’: Attorney urges college student accused of deadly crime spree to give up
As the manhunt intensified Monday for a University of Connecticut student who police say is wanted in a deadly crime spree, an attorney representing his family urged him to surrender.
Peter Manfredonia, a 2015 Newtown High School grad, is wanted in connection with two Connecticut homicides, a kidnapping, home invasion and a serious assault in a spree that began Friday. Manfredonia, who police say is “armed and dangerous,” was last seen Sunday afternoon in eastern Pennsylvania.
On Monday, Michael Dolan, an attorney representing Manfredonia’s family, urged the 23-year-old to turn himself in.
“Peter, if you are listening, your entire family loves you,” Dolan said outside his Hamden law office. “Nobody wants any harm to come to you. It’s time to let the healing process begin. It’s time to surrender.”
Dolan said Manfredonia has “struggled with mental health issues over the past several years” and has not had recent contact with his family.
“He’s sought the help of a therapist and he’s had the support of his parents and loved ones to help him through his struggles,” he said.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Anthony Petroski said Manfredonia was last seen Sunday afternoon in East Stroudsburg, a town near the New Jersey border. Pennsylvania state police released an image of Manfredonia walking along railroad tracks carrying what appeared to be a large duffel bag.
The FBI joined the search effort on Monday, assisting state police agencies in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Police say the crime spree began Friday morning when they say Manfredonia attacked two men in upstate Connecticut. Theodore DeMers was killed during the incident in Willington and another man was critically injured.
Manfredonia is also accused of killing Nicholas Eisele, who is also a 2015 Newtown High grad, in his Derby home on Sunday morning. Police described Eisele as an “acquaintance” of Manfredonia, who is also accused of kidnapping the man’s girlfriend before releasing her unharmed later Sunday in New Jersey.
Police say Manfredonia walked to Eisele’s home after crashing a truck he had stolen in a home invasion earlier on Sunday in Willington. Police said Manfredonia held a man captive, stealing guns, food and supplies, but did not harm him.
***WILLINGTON HOMICDE UPDATE***— CT State Police (@CT_STATE_POLICE) May 24, 2020
Most current photos of the suspect, Peter Manfredonia. Last seen in East Stroudsburg, PA. PA law enforcement agencies are actively looking for the suspect. Do NOT approach, he is ARMED AND DANGEROUS, call 911 immediately. pic.twitter.com/cOnvHh9EiQ
There are still many unknowns surrounding the investigation, including Manfredonia’s whereabouts and what prompted the alleged crime spree.
Police in Allentown, Pa., a town about 45 minutes southwest of East Stroudsburg, said they determined a tip was unfounded about Manfredonia asking an Uber driver for a ride to their town on Sunday.
The state police agencies in the three states have declined to confirm specifics in the case, citing a need to protect the investigation, witnesses and the public.
There has also been conflicting information released. Derby police on Monday said Eisele’s girlfriend was found Sunday in Paterson, a city in northeastern New Jersey. However, New Jersey state police said Monday the woman was found in Knowlton Township, near the Pennsylvania border, according to LehighValleyLive.com.
Connecticut state police said the woman identified Manfredonia as the person who kidnapped her from the Derby home.
“The individual did positively identify the captor as Peter Manfredonia,” state police said. “We are purposely not releasing any information of the individual to protect the safety of any potential witnesses and the integrity of the investigation.”
Police descended on Derby Sunday morning when they realized the truck they say Manfredonia stole during the Willington home invasion was abandoned near Osbornedale State Park.
“Evidence suggests that the truck became lodged on an elevated embankment at which time he abandoned it,” Derby police said in a statement on Monday.
Video surveillance in the area showed Manfredonia walking “directly” toward Eisele’s home on Roosevelt Drive between 5 and 6 a.m., Derby police said. The Roosevelt Drive residence is about 1 mile from the spot where the truck was abandoned.
Newtown Public Schools Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said in a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media that the community was “deeply saddened to learn of the tragic events that unfolded over the weekend involving former Newtown students,” referring to Manfredonia and Eisele.
“This is heartbreaking for the entire community, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Eisele family at this time, as well as other families in Connecticut who lost a loved one during this weekend’s incident,” Rodrigue said.
In a statement to parents and staff, Rodrigue said counselors and other members of the district’s Pupil Services Department are “prepared to support any students or staff as needed.”
Police began looking for Manfredonia after a deadly assault on Mirtl Road in Willington around 9 a.m. Friday. State police troopers found two victims suffering from injuries “after an assault with an edged weapon,” state police said.
Cynthia DeMers, whose 62-year-old husband died in the attack, declined to comment about the incident when reached by Hearst Connecticut Media. She told the Hartford Courant her husband had offered to help a young man, later identified as Manfredonia, who was walking on the road. She said Manfredonia told her husband his motorcycle was about 1,500 feet down the road and Theodore DeMers offered the college student a ride on his ATV back to his motorcycle.
She said about five minutes after she saw her husband drive away with Manfredonia, a neighbor drove up to her Mirtl Road home, alerting her to the incident. She told the Courant she found her husband lying on the ground with obvious injuries. She said she spoke with her husband of 42 years one last time before the ambulance took him away. He didn’t respond.
As of Sunday, police said the second victim in the Willington attack was still facing life-threatening injuries.
“Once again, we extend our sympathies to all of the families involved,” Connecticut State Police reiterated Monday. “The Connecticut State Police is working aggressively to bring this individual to justice.”
Anyone with any information is asked to call Derby police at 203-735-7811, state police at 860-896-3200 or the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI. Any sightings of Manfredonia should be called in to 911.