Peter Manfredonia, UConn senior wanted in two killings, caught in Maryland after multi-state manhunt

This undated photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows Peter Manfredonia.
This undated photo provided by the Connecticut State Police shows Peter Manfredonia.(AP)

A multi-state manhunt for Peter Manfredonia, a 23-year-old Newtown man wanted for two homicides in Connecticut, ended Wednesday night in Hagerstown, Md., when police and federal agents caught him near a truck stop.
He was captured about 9 p.m. Wednesday by Connecticut State Police Det. Mike Zella. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
Manfredonia was spotted walking near a truck stop when state, local and federal law enforcement closed in. A firearm was recovered in the vicinity of the arrest and police believe it is the same gun used in the Sunday homicide in Derby.
A lawyer for Manfredonia’s family, Michael Dolan of Hamden, said Manfredonia gave up without incident.
Two state police detectives went to Maryland and worked with Maryland State Police and Hagerstown police all day Wednesday, tracking Manfredonia after he took a ride share service to the city in the Maryland panhandle on Tuesday.
Cynthia DeMers, whose husband police say was brutally killed by Manfredonia on Friday in Willington, rejoiced at the news the manhunt was over.
“Doing the happy dance that all are safe,” she said. “My Ted is at peace and will continue to watch over our family. We will all move forward and continue on as he has instructed us to do.”
Manfredonia’s family was happy the search ended without further bloodshed, their lawyer said. “They are relieved that this has ended peacefully,” Hamden lawyer Mike Dolan said, and that no one else was hurt.
Gov. Ned Lamont thanked the Connecticut State Police, local officers and out-of-state law enforcement for their “dedicated commitment” to finding Manfedonia.
“We are appreciative of their unified approach to this disturbing situation,” Lamont tweeted Wednesday night.
Investigators used a combination of social media, technology and “good, old-fashioned police work” to catch up with Manfredonia, said Trooper Christine Jeltema of the Connecticut State Police.
Jeltema said state police fanned out along Manfredonia’s route, with troopers assigned to a federal command post and detectives working the case in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The detectives were from the Eastern and Central major crime squads, two of the state police’s three investigative teams.
She released few additional details about the investigation at a news conference late Wednesday but insisted more information would be available at another briefing Thursday afternoon.
Manfredonia was in Maryland State Police custody Wednesday night and could be facing federal charges in addition to a litany of state charges in each state he traveled through, Jeltema said.
“There could be state charges, federal charges, all of which will be worked out in the coming days, hours ... The suspect will face justice and this will bring closure,” Jeltema said. “This is what was important for the families of the victims, the victims.”
State police in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland, along with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals and others had been pursuing Manfredonia, who was believed to be heavily armed and had eluded law enforcement since he allegedly killed two men and fled Connecticut on Sunday.
The killing rampage began Friday when police say Manfredonia hacked to death a Willington man while searching for a female friend. Manfredonia evaded police search teams throughout the weekend and later allegedly fatally shot a Derby man in the head Sunday morning before stealing a car and heading to New Jersey and then taking a ride share to East Stroudsburg, Pa., Sunday afternoon.
Police in Pennsylvania say Manfredonia was spotted Tuesday morning in Chambersburg, Pa., carrying a black bag believed to contain firearms, before he took an Uber to nearby Hagerstown, Md.
Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, police near Scranton searched a wooded area near an old coal mining town after another possible sighting of Manfredonia.
Police and a crew aboard a Pennsylvania state police helicopter searched a wooded area near Duryea, Pa., late Tuesday and early Wednesday after a firefighter reported seeing a man matching Manfredonia’s description behind a firehouse, according to Duryea police. The search ended after several hours and came up empty.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania State Police warned Uber and Lyft drivers that Manfredonia “may attempt to solicit ride-sharing services, possibly through third-party means, to flee the area." Law enforcement officials said he may also seek refuge in wooded areas, a hotel or motel, or an abandoned building.
A man matching Manfredonia’s description was seen at a Sheetz convenience store in Chambersburg, which is just off I-81 in southern Pennsylvania, about 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. A black Hyundai Santa Fe stolen from East Stroudsburg, Pa., near where Manfredonia was seen about 6 p.m. Sunday, was recovered near the Sheetz store.
Police said the person they believe could be Manfredonia then received a ride from an Uber driver to Hagerstown, about 24 miles south of Chambersburg.
Police said surveillance video and witness descriptions of the man match Manfredonia’s description.
Back in Connecticut, new information emerged Wednesday about what Manfredonia was doing on Mirtl Road in Willington, where police say he killed a man and badly injured another after showing up on the rural road last Friday morning.
Police say they believe Manfredonia was headed Friday morning to the home of a young woman he knew who lived on the street. Just what his intentions were are not clear, but Manfredonia had left his motorcycle behind and was on foot and armed with what has been described as a small samurai sword or machete.
Manfredonia never made it to the woman’s house after running into Ted DeMers, a Mirtl Road resident, who offered to give Manfredonia a lift on his four-wheeler to where Manfredonia had left his motorcycle.
There was a violent confrontation and DeMers was brutally killed and a second neighbor, an 80-year-old man, was badly injured after he went to DeMers’ aid. Manfredonia never made it to the woman’s house.
On Wednesday, the wife of the man who survived Friday’s attack told the Courant that her husband was in stable condition at a local hospital.
“His hands are the worst,” she said. “He had other injuries that needed stitching.”
Her husband was home on Mirtl Road Friday morning when he apparently heard the violent confrontation involving DeMers and Manfredonia and went to help. DeMers’ widow, Cynthia DeMers, said she found both men lying on the ground after a neighbor alerted her. Ted DeMers was later pronounced dead.
The wife said she was away from home when the attack happened and came home to crime scene tape.
Because of COVID-19, she has not been allowed to see her husband in person and has only been able to speak with him for about three minutes each day, she said. They have not talked about the attack, she said.
“My impression is he had no clue what he was getting into,” she said.
The 80-year-old victim worked in finance and was a U.S. Navy veteran, his wife said. He had gone back to school after retirement and also was learning to speak Italian, she said. He loved playing golf and working with his hands and had recently been building stone walls around the couple’s property, she said.
The wife said her husband of 46 years, who grew up in Trumbull, is tough, and the doctors and nurses are amazed at his resilience.
She described their neighborhood as a peaceful haven — until Friday.
“It’s been a nice, quiet, wonderful neighborhood,” she said. “All you hear is the stillness and the birds, and to have it broken up by something like this is so tragic.”
As for Manfredonia, she said, her voice breaking, “I don’t want him killed … I pray, pray, pray that he does not kill anybody else.”
In an obituary, the DeMers family said he died after “a simple and cruel twist of fate — he simply offered a hand to a stranger in need. For this good deed, his life was taken from him.”
After the attack Friday morning, Manfredonia went into hiding before carrying out a home invasion elsewhere in Willington. He held a 73-year-man hostage but did not harm him, authorities said, before stealing guns, food and the man’s pickup truck on Sunday morning.
Police say Manfredonia drove to Derby Sunday morning, crashed the pickup and walked to the home of Nicholas Eisele, an aquaintance from Newtown, and killed him. Eisele, 23, died of gunshot wounds to the head, according to the state medical examiner’s office. Police believe the gun used in that shooting was the one found near Manfredonia at the time of his arrest Wednesday night.
Manfredonia then kidnapped Eisele’s girlfriend and stole her car. She and the car were found at a truck stop along I-80 in New Jersey, about seven miles from the Pennsylvania state line. Manfredonia fled to Pennsylvania by Uber.
This week, Manfredonia’s family and state police have urged Manfredonia to turn himself in.
Throughout his life, Manfredonia has struggled with mental health issues, but has never been violent, said Michael Dolan, a lawyer for Manfredonia’s family. Manfredonia grew up on the same Newtown street as Adam Lanza, the shooter in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Manfredonia’s family members and police pleaded with him to surrender.
Connecticut State Police, Lt. John Aiello issued a message directly to Manfredonia on Tuesday.
“Peter, we’ve talked to your family," Aiello said. "We’ve talked to your friends and your roommates. All of them have said the same thing, that this behavior is out of the ordinary for you.
“We know this is not who you are Peter,” Aiello continued. “I want you to know that we are continuing our investigation. One thing we are missing right now is you. We want you to be able to tell your story. We are here to listen to you.”
Aiello urged Manfredonia to call 911 and to turn himself in, assuring him if he does so he will be safe.
“Your parents, your friends, all of us back in Connecticut want a peaceful end to this,” Aiello said. “Your family has hired an attorney on your behalf and your life will be safeguarded.”

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