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How a six-day manhunt for a UConn senior suspected in two killings ended in an arrest in the woods
Published Wednesday, May 27, 2020 11:42PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, May 28, 2020 3:36AM EDT
Peter Manfredonia, 23, was at the center of a spree and a manhunt that crossed four states. Though the motive is still unclear, he is suspected of two killings, one injury, an abduction and a home invasion over the weekend.
His arrest on Wednesday ended the multi-agency effort to track him down, and he will be extradited to Connecticut where further investigation is sure to follow. Here is how the case has unfolded so far:
The spree of alleged crimes began in Willington, Connecticut, where a 62-year-old man was killed and another injured "with an edged weapon," Connecticut State Police said in a statement. Within hours, Manfredonia was identified as a suspect.
The deceased man was identified Tuesday as Theodore DeMers Sr. The other man is in stable condition, state police said.
That day launched an investigation that included local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, according to a timeline from state police.
The search continued for the suspect Saturday, with detectives serving search warrants and interviewing suspects, state police said.
Sunday morning, police learned that a Willington home had been invaded, and Manfredonia became a suspect. He is believed to have stolen multiple firearms and a vehicle, state police said.
Hours later, police received a 911 call requesting a wellbeing check for a home in Derby, Connecticut. Nicolas Eisele, 23, was found dead.
Eisele and Manfredonia graduated from the same high school in 2015, the superintendent of Newtown Public Schools confirmed.
Another person was abducted from the home where Eisele was found, police said, and a Volkswagen Jetta was stolen.
The victim was later found unharmed in Paterson, New Jersey, and identified Manfredonia, police said. The Volkswagen that Manfredonia was believed to have been driving was found in New Jersey near the Pennsylvania border.
From there, Manfredonia was dropped off by an Uber rideshare in front of a Walmart store in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, State Police announced Tuesday.
Interviews and security camera footage showed him walking behind the store on a set of train tracks with a duffel bag carrying the stolen guns, Pennsylvania police said.
As the search continued into the week, calls were sent out for Manfredonia to surrender and end the manhunt.
"It is time to let the healing process begin. It's time to surrender. You have your parents and your sisters and your family's entire support. So Peter, from your parents, who love you, please turn yourself in," the attorney for Manfredonia's family, Michael Dolan, said in a news conference Monday night.
The senior at the UConn joint School of Engineering/School of Business Management and Engineering for Management program has been struggling with mental health concerns and was receiving support from his family and therapists, Dolan said.
The family expressed their condolences to the loved ones of the victims as well.
The next day, Connecticut State Police sent their own message to Manfredonia.
After talking with his family and friends, Lt. John Aiello said in his message to the suspect "we know this is not who you are."
"We want you to be able to tell your story. We are here to listen to you. Your parents, your friends, all of us back here in Connecticut, want a peaceful end to this," Aiello said at a news briefing Tuesday.
A break in the case came when witness statements, photos and video from a Pennsylvania convenience store on Tuesday matched a customer to Manfredonia, police said.
The man in the images got into an Uber and was driven to Hagerstown, Maryland, police said.
Hagerstown police alerted residents and cautioned against answering the door to strangers.
But the six-day search ended that day when Manfredonia was found in the woods by a gas station in Hagerstown, a law enforcement official told CNN. He was arrested without incident.
During the arrest, police found a firearm they believe to be a murder weapon, Connecticut State Police Trooper Christine Jeltema said at a news briefing.
He was taken into custody by US Marshals and the FBI. More information is expected Thursday, police said.