A suspect in two slayings in Connecticut who was last spotted in Pennsylvania had gone to the neighborhood of the first victim because he was looking for a young woman he knew, the victim's wife said Tuesday.
Cindy DeMers said that her husband, Ted DeMers, went to speak with Peter Manfredonia on Friday when they saw the 23-year-old walking down the rural road in front of their Willington home wearing a motorcycle helmet. Manfredonia said that his motorcycle had broken down.
“He said to my husband, ‘I know so-and-so,' who is one of our neighbors, which then opened up the door to trusting this person,” she said.
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After giving Manfredonia a ride back to his bike, Ted DeMers was killed with a machete, Cindy DeMers said in an interview.
“I think he got in the way of what he was going to do," she said. “He was clearly walking to her home with a mission, with a machete in his backpack.”
DeMers said she talked with the young woman’s father over the weekend and discovered the family had been considering getting a restraining order against Manfredonia, who had been to the home in the past. Her neighbors have been told by police not to return to their home until he is captured, she said.
Several police agencies are searching for Manfredonia, who was last reported seen in Pennsylvania on Sunday.
Manfredonia, a senior at the University of Connecticut, is suspected of killing DeMers, 62 and later Nicholas Eisele, 23, a high school classmate who was found dead Sunday about 70 miles (110 kilometers) away in Derby, Connecticut.
Authorities say he then forced Eisele’s 23-year-old girlfriend into her car and fled the state with her. The girlfriend was found Sunday at a rest stop near Paterson, New Jersey, with her 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, police said, and was not hurt.
Manfredonia took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg, not far from the New Jersey border, Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday.
Police discovered through interviews with the driver and from security camera footage that Manfredonia walked behind the store and onto railroad tracks, authorities said.
State police said they don’t believe Manfredonia has ties to the area, or a car. He might try to use another ride-hailing service to flee, the agency said.
Manfredonia, who is believed to be armed with several guns stolen during a home invasion in Willington, was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and dark shorts and carrying a large duffel bag. Police have circulated a photo of a person matching his description walking along railroad tracks in East Stroudsburg.
Tuesday afternoon, State police released a photo of a vehicle that was taken from the area where Manfredonia was last spotted. They have not yet confirmed whether or not Manfredonia was the one who took the vehicle however.
A lawyer for Manfredonia’s family, Mike Dolan, said the suspect has struggled with mental health issues and has “sought the help of a number of therapists.”
“Peter, if you are listening, you are loved,” Dolan said at a news conference Monday. “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, we love you, please turn yourself in.”
A news briefing was planned late Tuesday afternoon at Connecticut State Police headquarters in Middletown.
If you spot Manfredonia, do not approach him but call 911 immediately. Anyone with information on his location should call Eastern District Major Crime – Troop C at (860) 896-3200.