Peter Manfredonia is a 23-year-old Connecticut man and UConn student who is suspected in two homicides, a brutal assault and a home invasion in which several guns were stolen, Connecticut State Police say. Manfredonia, of Sandy Hook, is a suspect in a Friday, May 22, murder and attack on Mirtl Road in Willington, along with a killing and abduction in Derby during a three-day rampage, state police said in a press release.
Manfredonia was arrested on Wednesday, May 27, in Hagerstown, Maryland, the Connecticut State Police said. He was arrested by local police along with the FBI and the U.S. Marshal’s Service, authorities said. Connecticut State Police investigators were also at the scene. Manfredonia and the officers involved in his arrest were not injured, according to state police.
After several hours of searching in the Naugatuck Valley area of Connecticut on Sunday, the search expanded into Pennsylvania and New Jersey after a car he was believed to be driving was found there, state police said. Manfredonia was not found with the car. According to The Valley Indy, a woman was found physically unharmed with the car. It is believed she was kidnapped by Manfredonia after he killed her boyfriend and stole their car in Derby, Connecticut, the news site reports.
The department tweeted Sunday about 3:15 p.m., “The vehicle has been located in PA. PA law enforcement agencies are actively looking for the suspect.” Police later updated the tweet by saying the car was located in New Jersey near the Pennsylvania border. Police said he was last seen in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Pennsylvania State Police said released a photo of Manfredonia in that area:
SUSPECT was last seen yesterday (Sunday) afternoon in East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, PA. Description:
White Male, 23 years old, dark colored shorts, white t-shirt & carrying a large duffel bag.
If seen, DO NOT APPROACH, ARMED & DANGEROUS ➡️ CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!
— Trooper Petroski (@PSPTroopNPIO) May 25, 2020
On Wednesday, hours before Manfredonia’s arrest, police said the search had moved to Maryland after he was spotted there.
State police described Manfredonia as white male about 6 foot 3 inches tall who weighs 240 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray T-shirt, gray sweatpants and was carrying a bag, according to police. He was believed to be armed with guns and a knife or machete, police said. He has black disheveled hair, state police said.
The FBI joined the investigation along with the Connecticut State Police, and police in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On Monday, an attorney representing Manfredonia’s family, Michael Dolan, held a press conference, and sent a message from the family to the 23-year-old suspect. Dolan said, “Peter, if you are listening, your entire family loves you. Nobody wants any harm to come to you. It’s time to let the healing process begin. It’s time to surrender.”
Dolan, of Hamden, told reporters Manfredonia has struggled with mental health issues over several years. Dolan said, “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.” Unconfirmed ph
Here’s what you need to know about Peter Manfredonia:
1. Manfredonia Did Not Know the Victims in the Willington Assault & Attacked Them After They Offered to Give Him a Ride to Where His Motorcycle Was Parked, Police Say
Connecticut State Police said they do not believe Manfredonia knew the victims in the Willington homicide and assault. Police said in a statement, Manfredonia “was seen leaving the scene of a homicide and serious assault” on Mirtl Road in Willington about 9 a.m. on May 22. One man was killed and another was seriously wounded. According to police, the men were attacked by a sharp object, possibly a knife or machete.
The victim who was killed has been identified on a GoFundMe page set up to help his family as Ted DeMers, 62. DeMers was a woodworker who was at his barn when he was attacked and killed, according to his family.
DeMers’ wife, Cynthia, told the Hartford Courant her husband and the other man offered to help Manfredonia when they saw him walking on the road. He said he needed a ride back to where he had parked his motorcycle, she told the newspaper. Cynthia DeMers told the Courant, “It could have been anybody who offered him a ride. It could have been any of my neighbors’ husbands. It just happened to be mine.”
She said five minutes after her husband drove away with Manfredonia on a four-wheeler, a neighbor drove up to the house and told her there had been an awful accident, according to the Courant. Police responded and found two victims and immediately began CPR. State police spokesman Trooper Josue Dorelus told reporters the attack was “brutal.” Both victims were taken to the hospital, where DeMers died, according to police.
The second victim, described as an elderly neighbor of the DeMers, suffered injuries considered to be “extremely serious, potentially life threatening,” Dorelus said Friday. The second victim has not been identified and an update on his condition was not immediately available on Sunday.
Manfredonia was seen leaving the scene of the attacks in Willington on a red motorcycle, but police later found the bike abandoned. Police issued an alert on Saturday, about 5:30 p.m., identifying Manfredonia as a suspect in the slaying and assault and saying, “He was wearing dark clothing and is considered ARMED AND DANGEROUS. If seen do not approach and call 911. Anyone with information, please contact Eastern District Major Crimes – Troop C at 860-896-3200.”
2. Police Say They Believe Manfredonia Stole Guns & a Car From a Willington Home Overnight & Killed an ‘Acquaintance’ at a Home in Derby & Kidnapped the Victim’s Girlfriend
After the attacks on Mirtl Road in Willington, Manfredonia is believed to have broken into a home on Turnpike Road in Willington Saturday night while at least one person was home, police said. According to police, Manfredonia is believed to have stolen shotguns and a pistol from the house during the home invasion. He also stole a truck, state police said.
“The homeowner was held against his will. The suspect that we know from Willington took supplies to include food and the victim’s truck,” Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema, the state police public information officer, said at a Sunday press conference. “We also learned that firearms were taken from the home. The victim on Turnpike Road was not injured and he refused treatment at the scene. The suspect then took the victim’s truck, drove it down to Derby where it was located near Osbornedale State Park.”
The truck taken from the Willington home was found crashed and abandoned in Derby about 6:45 a.m. Sunday on Hawthorne Avenue at Cullens Hill Road, police said. It is not known when exactly the crash occurred. Police began searching the area of Osbornedale State Park in Seymour and Derby Sunday morning after suspecting he was possibly there. The park was closed down. But by Sunday afternoon, authorities in both towns said he was not located. The search included the area of Great Hill Road and Roosevelt Drive, also known as Route 34, Seymour Police said.
“It is believed that the homicide suspect from earlier today is no longer to be in the area. Thank you for the public’s assistance with this matter,” Seymour Police said on Facebook.
Derby Police said, “Out of an abundance of caution, residents will see a heavy police presence of local police officers and Connecticut State Police troopers along with aerial reconnaissance while they search for the suspect and look for evidence. Residents are asked to remain vigilant as this suspect is considered armed and highly dangerous.”
Police were also at a home on Roosevelt Drive, Route 34, where a second homicide was being investigated Sunday morning. The Courant reports Manfredonia is also a suspect in that killing. Few details about the Derby homicide have been released.
Derby Police said on Facebook, “A secondary crime scene has been located on Roosevelt Drive (Route 34). Derby Police and State Police are investigating. A portion of route 34 will be closed in both directions for the next hour or two. Local traffic will be detoured locally onto Park Avenue. We’ll update the situation as the information is received.”
Connecticut State Police said at a press conference later Sunday a man was killed at the Roosevelt Drive home and Manfredonia is a suspect in the murder. Jeltema said Manfredonia is believed to have known the victim in that killing. The victim has been identified as an acquaintance of Manfredonia, police said, but they did not detail the nature of their relationship.
State Police later identified the victim as Nicholas Eisele, 23. Public records show Eisele is from Newtown, Connecticut, the same town where Manfredonia was born and raised. They appear to have been classmates at Newtown High School.
According to The Valley Indy, Manfredonia left Derby with Eisele’s girlfriend, who has not been named. Police did not use the term “kidnapping,” saying the incident is still under investigation, according to The Valley Indy. Eisele’s girlfriend was found safe and physically unharmed along with a Volkswagen Jetta taken from Eisele’s home at a rest stop off a New Jersey road near the Pennsylvania border, the local news website reports. According to The Valley Indy, police planned to interview the abducted woman.
3. Manfredonia Is a Newtown Native Who Has Been Studying at UConn Since 2015 & Says He Works at a Company in Cheshire
Manfredonia is a native of the Sandy Hook section of Newtown, Connecticut, and graduated from Newtown High School in 2015. He has been a student at University of Connecticut since then. Manfredonia was initially set to graduate from UConn in 2019 but did not. On LinkedIn, Manfredonia said he is an honors student at UConn studying mechanical engineering.
Stephanie Reitz, a UConn spokesperson, said in a statement that Manfredonia has been a student in UConn’s joint School of Engineering/School of Business MEM (Management and Engineering for Management) program. He was taking summer classes but was not living on campus, Reitz said. She said in a statement:
UConn is in contact with Connecticut State Police and providing any assistance and information that may assist with their investigation. Since the investigation remains open and active, the University will not be making additional comments at this time.
The university expresses its deepest, most heartfelt sympathies to the victims and their families in this horrible, incomprehensible tragedy. While the University can’t discuss specific individuals or cases, UConn strives to do everything possible to identify and engage with students of concern and to provide them with all the assistance and resources we can both for their own well-being and that of the wider community.
Manfredonia says on his LinkedIn page he has worked as a financial operations analyst at Bozzuto’s in Cheshire since 2016. The company could not immediately be reached for comment by Heavy. Manfredonia wrote on LinkedIn, “Assessed multiple positions as assistant to the Chief Financial Officer of Bozzuto’s Inc, one of the North East largest wholesale distributors. Partook in negotiations with multiple high interest clients and partners. Project designer for mobile application with the objective of expanding consumer interest in both online market experience and in-store experience.”
Manfredonia has also worked as a doorman at Ted’s Restaurant in Storrs since 2017, according to his Facebook page, and was a bouncer at Huskies Restaurant & Bar, also in Storrs, from 2015 to 2017.
Newtown Police said they would be stepping up patrols in town because of his strong ties to the area.
4. Manfredonia Has Raised Money for Anti-Gun-Violence Charities & Wrote on Facebook About How He Was Affected by Sandy Hook & Other Shootings
Manfredonia was a student at Newtown High School in 2012 when 20 students and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his hometown. Since then, Manfredonia has been active in raising money and awareness for anti-gun-violence groups, his social media pages show.
On LinkedIn, Manfredonia, who played football at Newtown High School, said he was the marketing coordinator for Dream Ride, a Cheshire-based nonprofit. Manfredonia wrote he, “organized, developed and oversaw a marketing campaign over multiple online platforms for the Hometown Foundation. Worked with the Dream Ride charity, raising money to benefit the Special Olympics and CT Law Enforcement.”
In 2019, Manfredonia posted a Facebook fundraiser saying he was participating in the 34th Annual Dave Parcells Madison Triathlon, “to raise awareness for multiple contemporary social/environmental issues. It will also serve as preparation for my iron man next year that will continue the same tradition, except just like an iron man is to a triathlon… it will be bigger and better. Making progress will be a reoccurring theme in my astute little manifesto that ensues, so make sure you please pay attention.”
Manfredonia said money raised during the event would support Sandy Hook Promise and a foundation set up in honor of one of the children killed in the shooting, along with Connecticut Children’s Hospital, the Environmental Defense Fund, Planned Parenthood, the World Wildlife Fund, Students for a Free Tibet, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Brain Foundation. Manfredonia wrote:
CHARITY IS A POWERFUL TOOL IN INFLUENCING DEMOCRACY! We can’t always control politics but with the coordination of charitable effort we can still help influence a better future. It’s the easiest way for you to help leave a positive impact on the world. I will post links for each one separately and thanks again for any and all support. Everything helps, not just monetary aid! PLEASE like and share as well. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD AND BECOME PART OF A MOVEMENT!
GIVE THESE ORGANIZATIONS YOUR ATTENTION INSTEAD OF THE MEDIA. See what they are doing firsthand to bring about progress in society instead of just spending your time on a couch watching the world change without you like I did for so long. Educate yourselves on topics instead of listening to them from someone else who has no idea what they’re talking about.
Manfredonia also said:
As a little foreword I would like to express my understanding of a concept that originated in Buddhism, the practice I adopted after going through the events in my home town on 12/14. This concept has followed me from China to UConn and everywhere in-between. This concept is called KARMA. Karma, to me, is a feeling you have towards someone that makes you want to do good for them and help them. It’s is why we sympathize with people during a period of great difficulty or anguish. It’s what connects us all as autonomous sentient beings. THIS FEELING OF CONNECTION TO YOUR FELLOW MAN/ANIMAL IS WHAT WILL MAKE THE WORLD PROGRESS. NOT HATE AND EVIL AND IGNORANCE!!! It’s when we don’t care about karma that our fellow man/animal suffer the most. That is why when you feel like you’re doing more good, you’re getting more good back in your life. Know that people always remember the ones who help them when they are at their most vulnerable or in their most need!
On August 4, 2019, Manfredonia wrote about mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in a Facebook post:
It is with a heavy heart that I wake up this morning and address the three mass shootings that have recently taken place; two of which were no more than 14 hours apart. I would first like to say that any public concentration should only be focused on the victims and families of these atrocities. By promoting the perpetrator and their ideology, you are only progressing their message of violence and hate and giving purpose to their action.
I would also like to say that in times like these more than ever, it is important to cherish all the people you love. Love is the only answer to hate, not more hate. By surrounding ourselves with the ones we love, we become more human. We discover the depths of our empathy, an ability that must be tuned through social interaction and emotional intelligence… a trait far too many white, male nationalists are stunted in.
Beto O’Rourke, who’s home town of El Paso was involved in the deadliest of the three, gave a speech during the event saying: “Any illusion that we have that progress is inevitable or that the change that we need is going to come of its own accord is shattered in moments like these. It is upon every single one of us [to incite change], there is no luxury in this democracy of sitting this one out.” BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.
Use words… not violence…
(Reminder that this is NOT a partisan political address and gun violence should not be a partisan issue as it effects all of us)
Also in August 2019, he wrote about violence in America in another Facebook post:
An irrefutable factor in this plague of violence effecting the nation MUST be attributed extremist views brought about by an environment that promotes toxic masculinity while enabling individuals with a dangerously severe lack of sympathy/remorse to freely acquire firearms. How much more will it take for people to understand SOMETHING in our system isn’t working and action needs to be taken? Remember the victims, not the shooters or their ideology. #PrayForElPaso #PrayForGilroy
Manfredonia also often posted about environmental issues. He wrote in 2019, “While I am very happy to see the plastic bag ordinance take effect in Connecticut, it only accounts for a very small fraction of the waste that ends up in our oceans! The importance of residents, business leaders, and politicians working together to find more sustainable solutions to our waste problems is absolutely paramount!”
He also encouraged fellow UConn students to not use straws. On Instagram, Manfredonia includes the Latin phrase, ” Faber est suae quisque fortunae,” in his profile, which means roughly, each is the forger of his own fortune. He also wrote he is, “Myers-Briggs: INTJ,” and affiliated with the “New Dawn Innovation Lab ⏳ (TM).” He has a set of Instagram posts about raising awareness for causes he believes in.
5. The Search for Manfredonia Has Expanded to Pennsylvania After the Black Volkswagen Jetta With a Sandy Hook Tribute Bumper Sticker Was Found There, Police Say
State police had said Manfredonia should be considered to be armed and dangerous. On Sunday, about 1 p.m., the state police issued a new “be on the lookout” alert, saying, “Vehicle related to Willington Homicide/Derby incident. Call 9-1-1 if seen.”
The alert said Manfredonia was possibly driving a 2016 black Volkswagen Jetta with CT license plate number AU78524 and a bumper sticker on the driver’s side that says “Sandy Hook Tribute Victim #26.”
CALL 911 IF YOU SEE THIS VEHICLE: 2016 Black Volkswagen Jetta CT AU78524 Bumper sticker on driver's side reading "Sandy Hook Tribute Victim #26". This is related to the ongoing manhunt in the Derby area for the Willington homicide suspect. #NBCCT pic.twitter.com/b7hTacihTS
— Heidi Voight (@HeidiVoight) May 24, 2020
The vehicle was then located in New Jersey near the Pennsylvania state line, police said. Authorities have not said exactly where in New Jersey the Jetta was found. Manfredonia was not located and was last seen in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, the Connecticut State Police said.
“Our condolences go out to the families who have been affected by this tragedy,” state police Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema said at a Sunday press conference. “Please know that Connecticut State Police and all of our law enforcement partners are actively and continuously searching for this suspect. We know that he is armed and dangerous.”
Jeltema added, “Do not approach him and call 911. We know that this is currently under investigation and we are gathering information. We know that we are getting various investigative leads and at this point we are investigating all the possible leads that we have.” She said surrounding states have been notified about the case, but she did not specify whether investigators believe Manfredonia has left Connecticut.
The GoFundMe campaign for the family of Theodore DeMers, the victim killed in Willington, has raised more than $45,000. Matt Emond, who started the fundraiser, wrote, “The DeMers family has suffered an unspeakable and incomprehensible tragedy. We are trying to raise some money to assist the family in any way possible. Please feel free to share and support a wonderful family. Anything helps.”
A family member wrote on Facebook, “Yesterday, my Uncle Ted was taken from our family in the most brutal and unthinkable way. A cruel and damaged individual decided to take his life when my uncle extended his help to them.” She added:
If you ever had the pleasure of meeting my Uncle Ted, then you know what a massive loss this is for our whole family, but especially for my Aunt Cyndi and my cousins, Teddy and Chris. He was a gentle, kind, and funny man. An example of what it looks like to be a good husband and father. Someone who is spoken of highly by his friends and neighbors as being generous and welcoming. It is deeply unfair that he is no longer in this world with us.
Art Blaskey wrote on Facebook, “Yesterday I lost my best friend, Ted DeMers, of 43 years, to a vicious and brutal assault while trying to help this person out who attacked him, nuff said. He was a devoted husband, father/family man and a great friend of mine. All I’m asking is to send prayers and well-wishes for family and myself as we’re all having a rough time dealing with this…”
Artists in the Country, a Connecticut group, wrote on Facebook, that DeMers, “was an artist using wood to make lovely furniture, and other wood items. He had been in my ArtistsintheCountry shows for a number of years, and I always enjoyed seeing him and his wife. When I went to see him one year at Open Studio, I noted what a beautiful peaceful road in Willington they lived on.”