A View from Glen Hill: Great efforts yield rewards

One cannot help but have enormous respect and admiration for how Rick Parisot and Kate Throckmorton have handled the enormous tragedy of their beloved and accomplished son Nick’s violent death. Through seven agonizing years, they have remained true to their noble resolve to pursue justice, not vengeance or retribution.  They have sought most specifically an admission of responsibility. That admission has been depressingly long in coming but finally happened in Stamford Superior Court three weeks ago when John Tully Knight finally confessed.
Nick’s parents have extended special recognition to the police departments of Wilton and Placentia, Calif., for their work. They described that work in a letter to the editor in this newspaper last week as being “invaluable to this resolution.” Likewise, the attorney representing Nick’s family has said specifically of the Wilton Police Department, “They did a great job on this case.”
Our police operate under constraints of confidentiality in pursuing investigations that are as frustrating for them as they are for many of us yet are necessary to the legal safeguards that buttress our criminal justice system. Now that Knight’s admission has happened and court files have been made public, it’s possible to get detailed glimpses into unrelenting police investigative work.
One particularly illuminating document is a lengthy Statement of Probable Cause affidavit filed to secure court authorization for searches of the Knight home in California for electronic devices and files and other stored information relevant to the case. This affidavit offers many significant insights into the thoroughness of Wilton Police Department’s investigations, conducted both here and in California.
Specifically, the work of Wilton detectives was very impressive both in terms of the immediate physical investigation of the scene and in terms of the subsequent detailed interviews, conducted in many cases multiple times, with shifting stories and alibis advanced by Knight, his family members, and others. It included such things as the “friending” of Knight on Facebook under an assumed name to get his cell phone and other information that led to contacts with friends Knight made in California. It also included the use of a large bird feather surreptitiously introduced to the area around the crime scene to see if Knight would latch onto it (as he, in fact, did) to concoct a story about what had happened but with the investigating officers knowing, of course — having placed the feather there themselves — that it couldn’t possibly have been there at the time of Nick’s death.
These and other details show the sophistication of the investigative techniques used by our police department. The continued focusing of this matter in the public eye through such things as urging witnesses to come forward also helped to contribute to the accumulation of other evidence. In fact, some of the most telling evidence came from disclosures by Knight himself to three friends in California about what had happened to Nick and his role in it. Again, the police work involved in finding and pursuing those leads to Knight’s California friends with important evidence and then inducing them to provide that evidence is very impressive.
The members of Stand Up for Nick also deserve much credit for their role in supporting Nick’s family and in constantly calling for those with information to come forward.
Being a police officer these days is especially challenging work. The annual awards ceremony that recognizes some of our officers’ accomplishments over the preceding year offers insights into the nature of that work: from rescues from burning automobiles, to resuscitations of those near death, to acting as an interpreter (in Polish) for a crime victim in Stamford, their professional work runs a long gamut.
Their personal efforts for our town also deserve special mention. To offer two examples, Capt. John Lynch makes sure himself that the many attendees (many senior citizens) of the library and historical society’s lecture series make it safely across the four busy lanes of Route 7 at dusk and after dark when the series overflows the society’s parking lot and attendees must park across the street; and Officer Anna Rita Tornello has offered her gorgeous operatic soprano voice, accompanied by concert pianist (and Wilton resident) Erica vanderLinde Feidner, for three years now — and most recently just 10 days ago — in the annual Stop Hunger Now Benefit Concert to raise funds for meals to feed the poorest children in the world.
Wilton police officers’ presence on the front lines of our town in these and many other ways merits our profound gratitude and appreciation.