Scott Kologi, an autistic 16-year-old, is accused in the New Year’s Eve massacre of his mother, father, sister, and a family friend, who were shot to death with a semi-automatic rifle in Long Branch, New Jersey.
It was a bloodbath. The murder of almost an entire family brings to mind literary lore like In Cold Blood, but, in this case, authorities say the autistic teenager turned a semi-automatic rifle on the three family members and a woman who was his grandfather’s partner. The motive is not yet clear. What is known is that, by the end of the evening, half of the six-member Kologi family was dead, and a fourth accused in the slayings.
Long Branch, New Jersey is a town of about 30,000 people that is located on the fabled Jersey Shore. The murders, a neighbor said, came “totally out of the blue.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Boy Was Autistic & Cared for By His Mother
Jalen Walls, a family friend, told NJ.com that the Kologis’ 16-year-old son “required special assistance and was cared for by his mother. The teen did not attend the same public schools as his brother and sister.”
“But he was fully functional and comprehended what we were saying,” said Walls, 18, to the New Jersey newspaper. The husband of the boy’s grandmother told The Daily News that the teenager had autism. There were no previous reports of domestic troubles at the family’s home.
“I could never have believed this could have happened. They were all good people,” said Carmen Gaudious, a family friend, to the Asbury Park Press. “I just spoke to Steve (the father) three days ago. He looked good. It was cold so we didn’t say much. He wished me happy holidays.”
She added of Scott Kologi: “I don’t know too much about him. He didn’t come out that much.”
The boy is accused of four counts of first-degree murder and is being held in a juvenile detention facility, according to NBC New York. He’s accused of killing his father, Steven Kologi, 44; mother, Linda Kologi, 42; sister Brittany Kologi, 18; and Mary Schultz, 70, a family friend who, according to NBC, lived in the house with the Kologi family.
2. The Kologis Seemed Like a Loving Family on Facebook & One Friend Described Scott as ‘the Nicest Boy in the World’
On Facebook, Linda Kologi captioned one photo: “Family photo The Cheesecake Factory Sept. 2016” and included a heart. On Twitter, she indicated an interest in playing the New Jersey lottery.
Photos on family members’ Facebook pages show Scott Kologi celebrating a birthday with cupcakes, posing with his siblings, at a pumpkin patch, and playing video games. Joe Rios, a family friend, told The New York Post that Scott Kologi was “the nicest kid in the world.”
“He came to watch the softball games with Linda and he was always smiling. This is totally out of the blue,” Rios told The Post, adding, “This is not something I ever thought this young boy would do. I don’t know what happened. He was not a violent kid. He was always smiling.”
Prosecutors have not revealed many of the grisly details. “MCPO running an ongoing homicide investigation with 4 dead in Long Branch. No threat to the public as it is believed to be an isolated domestic incident. More to follow stay tuned,” the Monmouth prosecutor wrote. According to The New York Post, the suspect’s weapon, a “Century Arms semiautomatic rifle — which was legally registered to a resident in the home — was seized.”
3. Other Family Members Survived the Attack
The entire family was not massacred: One of the boy’s brothers and grandfather were unharmed after the bloodbath, according to The New York Daily News. “The grandfather of the suspect as well as the brother of the suspect thankfully left the home,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.
The victims were shot at close range and weren’t all in the same room.
The grandfather, Adrian Kologi, was dating Schultz, one of the victims. Altogether, the Kologi family consisted of Steven, Linda, three boys and one girl. Both of the suspect’s two brothers survived the massacre unscathed, although it’s not clear whether the second brother was present at the time as only the grandfather and one brother are described as escaping.
One of the older boys was Steve Kologi’s son from a different marriage, The New York Post reported. A friend of Steve Kologi’s wrote on Facebook: “The physical stature of a super hero and the sentiment a life long family man. You were good company Steve Kologi… Would have liked to have seen you one last time.”
4. The Father Worked as a Truck Driver & Mail Carrier & The Family Struggled With Financial Issues
A bankruptcy from 2009 indicated that the family struggled with financial troubles over the years. The father, at that time, had worked as a mail carrier for 10 years, and the mother was unemployed. The parents reported minimal assets beyond the family home and a couple of Honda Accords.
However, after the slayings, Scott’s brother, Steven Kologi Jr., wrote a tribute to his parents on Instagram, praising them for always providing for their children. The New York Post reports that the father was recently working as a truck driver. Steve Jr.’s tribute reads: “My New Years resolution is to be as great of a parent as my parents were to me. I know many of you don’t want to read long bios but they were the greatest parents I could ask for. Never once was I without a hot meal or a roof over my head. They made sure Christmas came every year although they struggled financially.”
Despite his young age, the gravity of the homicides could lead to an adult charge. “The 16-year-old gunman will be charged as an adult later Monday with four counts of murder as well as one count of possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes,” The New York Daily News reported. Long Branch, New Jersey is a small town of about 30,000 people that is part of the famed Jersey Shore.
5. Brittany Kologi Returned Home From College For the Holidays
Photos and a meme that Brittany placed on Facebook indicated she had recently graduated from high school. She posted a photo with her siblings on Facebook, to which her mother responded, “The BEST kids in the universe” and included a heart. Brittany jokingly responded, “No just me.” Brittany filled her Facebook page with typical photos for her age: At Disney World, with friends, selfies, and some family shots.
She was in her first year of college and had returned home for the holidays, her social media posts indicate. Brittany was attending Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey, according to her Facebook page. She jokingly wrote on Facebook, “Studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” Her last public post was a meme that read: “Coming home as a student is so confusing like do I unpack? do I live out of a suitcase for a month? do I just leave everything on the floor?”
She shared a photo of a box full of cookies that she said was a care package from her parents. “Excited about the care package my parents sent me for finals week that also came with tea and coffee,” she wrote.