UConn student Peter Manfredonia, wanted for two Connecticut murders in multi-state manhunt, captured at gunpoint; lawyer says he was ‘tired and scared’

As a Connecticut state police detective briefed a team of law enforcement officers about Peter Manfredonia near a Maryland truck stop about 9 p.m. Wednesday, the UConn senior was spotted and taken into custody at gunpoint, a state police commander said Thursday.
“As they were talking about his height, 6-3, 6-4, one of the team members turned and approximately 20 feet away from them was a gentleman who was six-foot-four,” said Lt. Michael Pendleton, commander of the Central District Major Crime Squad.
“Det. Michael Zella, at that point who was providing the update, looked over at Mr. Manfredonia and noticed he had his red sneakers on. At that point a side view profile matched the photos that we had. Immediately Det. Zella and the team went over to Mr. Manfredonia with their guns drawn and told him to get on the ground.”
Manfredonia immediately complied, Pendleton said.
“At that point, he went to the ground,” Pendleton said. “He did not resist and absolutely no force was used to effect the arrest.”
After a six-day manhunt for Manfredonia, wanted for a Connecticut crime spree that includes two homicides, was in custody.

Tip leads to capture

Manfredonia was being held without bail and waived extradition during a hearing in Washington County District Court, said Cpl. Carly Hose of the Washington County Sheriff’s office said Thursday.
A tip sent the team of state, local and federal law enforcement officers to the truck stop in Hagerstown, Maryland Wednesday night. He later led the officers to a duffel bag that contained a gun police believed was used in the Derby homicide.
“He followed all directions from law enforcement and was very cooperative,” Pendleton said.
The crime spree began Friday in Willington, where Manfredonia is accused of killing a man, badly wounding another and carrying out a home invasion. Police suspect he went on to fatally shoot an acquaintance in Derby 70 miles away on Sunday and kidnap the man’s girlfriend before fleeing to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
A lawyer for Manfredonia’s family, Michael Dolan of Hamden, said the 23-year-old gave up without incident. Dolan said he talked to Manfredonia Wednesday night.
“He said that he was tired and scared,” Dolan said.
Dolan said Manfredonia could be arraigned as soon as Friday in Connecticut. He said he expects Manfredonia to return with the state police detectives who went to Maryland to search for him.
Two 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.
“I do just want to say that we are so thankful that our community is safe,” Hagerstown Lt. Rebecca Fetchu said. “Because this could have ended badly.”

Fleeing in an Uber

On Wednesday, Fetchu said, the U.S. Marshal’s Service -- which had joined the manhunt along with the FBI and state police -- called Hagerstown police and told them they believed Manfredonia had taken an Uber ride to their city after abandoning a stolen car near a Sheetz convenience store in Chambersburg, Pa. about 25 miles away.
Hagerstown police talked to the Uber driver, but he wasn’t familiar with the Hagerstown area and wasn’t sure where he had dropped off the suspect. Police then went to the city’s surveillance camera system and were able to find the Uber.
“We combed through a lot of video just to determine what exit the Uber driver had taken in town,” Fetchu said. “We figured he had gotten out at the downtown Hagerstown area. We believed he got out of the car.”
Officers were searching for Manfredonia when news of the manhunt broke in the city, and police started getting tips, she said. Then, the U.S. Marshals called again and said they think the suspect took another Uber to the Pilot Travel Center, a truck stop just outside the city.
Police from different agencies converged at the truck stop and were discussing their game plan when Manfredonia walked out of a wooded area, Fetchu said.
Cynthia DeMers, whose husband police say Manfredonia killed on Friday in Willington, said she was “doing the happy dance that all are safe.''
“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 also was happy the search ended without further bloodshed, their lawyer said. “They are relieved that this has ended peacefully,” 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 the suspect.
“We are appreciative of their unified approach to this disturbing situation,” Lamont tweeted Wednesday night.

Four-state manhunt

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.
State police fanned out along the route they suspected Manfredonia took, Jeltema said, 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 agency’s three investigative teams. The FBI and U.S. Marshal Service were among the federal agencies that helped.
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.
Pennsylvania State Police warned Uber and Lyft drivers Tuesday 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.
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.
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 matched Manfredonia’s description.

Rampage starts with violent attack

Police say they believe Manfredonia was headed Friday morning to the home of a young woman in Willington 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.
Randi Calabrese, a spokeswoman for the woman’s family, said the family is “heartbroken by this tragedy.”
“Saddened wouldn’t even encapsulate what they’re feeling,” Calabrese said. “It’s a scary situation. It’s senseless.”
She would not comment on the relationship between Manfredonia and the young woman.
“The family obviously wants justice to be served in this case,” Calabrese said.
The case highlights the need for identification of mental health problems and “proactive steps to prevent senseless deaths,” said Calabrese, a New Haven area attorney.
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 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.
DeMers’ widow, Cynthia DeMers, said she found both men lying on the ground after a neighbor alerted her.
On Wednesday, the wife of the 80-year-old 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.
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.”
After the attack Friday morning, Manfredonia went into hiding before carrying out a home invasion north of Mirtl Road 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 acquaintance from Newtown, and killed him. Eisele who also was 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.
Police suspect 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.
Throughout his life, Manfredonia has struggled with mental health problems, but has never been violent, said Dolan, the 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.

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