Manfredonia bond upped to $7M, held on suicide watch
ROCKVILLE — Peter Manfredonia — the University of Connecticut student accused of two killings, kidnapping, home invasion and other crimes — has been placed on suicide watch while he’s held on $7 million bond.
Manfredonia, 23, appeared for his arraignment Friday via video conference from the lockup in state Superior Court in Rockville. Wearing a white shirt and face mask, Manfredonia did not speak during the 10-minute hearing.
Manfredonia did not enter a plea to the charges of murder, attempted murder, first-degree assault, home invasion, kidnapping and other charges related to the crimes police say he committed in Willington last month.
The Newtown High grad is expected to face more charges next week in connection with the homicide of a former high school classmate and the kidnapping of the man’s girlfriend, police said.
Manfredonia was returned to Connecticut early Friday from Maryland, where he was captured May 27 following a six-day manhunt.
Defense attorney Michael Dolan requested his client be placed on suicide and mental health watch while he’s held in jail.
Dolan, who said his client will eventually plead not guilty to the charges, declined to comment after the hearing whether he was pursuing a mental health defense.
Superior Court Judge Hope Seeley denied Dolan’s request to lower his client’s bond to $2 million. Seeley instead increased it to $7 million — $5 million in the Willington homicide case and $2 million for a separate home invasion in that town.
Tolland State’s Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky requested high bail, noting the strength of the state’s case, severity of the crimes alleged and the risk Manfredonia poses to the community.
“These are both very strong cases for the state,” Gedansky told the judge. “The defendant presents a particular danger to the community.”
Manfredonia, who was extradited from Maryland where he was captured last month after six days on the run, has been charged with murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, first-degree assault, home invasion, kidnapping, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, first-degree robbery, first-degree larceny, two counts of first-degree stealing a firearm, and third-degree assault of an elderly person. The arrest warrant for the Willington crimes has been sealed for 14 days.
The case was continued to July 10 and a probable cause hearing has been scheduled for July 30.
State police have not released a motive for the series of events that began May 22 when they say Manfredonia attacked two men with a type of machete in upstate Connecticut.
A source close to the investigation said Manfredonia was heading to see his former girlfriend in Willington when his motorcycle broke down.
Theodore DeMers offered Manfredonia a ride on his four-wheeler when police say the 62-year-old man was fatally attacked with an “edged” weapon. John Franco, 80, was critically injured in the attack when he came to help his neighbor. Alice Franco told Hearst Connecticut Media that the condition of her husband, a U.S. Navy vet who grew up in Trumbull, has improved with the most serious injuries to his hands.
Two days later, a Willington man was left unharmed after police say Manfredonia stole his guns, food, supplies and his truck during a home invasion.
A few hours later, police recovered the stolen truck in Derby, setting off an extensive search that led authorities to a Roosevelt Drive home about a mile away. Inside the home, police said they found the body of Nicholas Eisele, a former Newtown High School classmate of Manfredonia.
The state’s medical examiner said Eisele was shot several times in the head. police said Manfredonia kidnapped the 23-year-old man’s girlfriend who was found several hours later unharmed in New Jersey.
Investigators tracked Manfredonia to Pennsylvania and then Maryland where he surrendered without incident near a truck stop on May 27.
Manfredonia waived extradition to Connecticut in a Maryland court the day after his capture. He could also be face federal charges in the kidnapping of Eisele’s girlfriend.
Photos of Manfredonia’s former bedroom were turned over to police that show hand-written messages on the walls, according to an attorney representing a man who is considered a cooperating witness in the case. One of the messages references Adam Lanza, who killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and lived on the same street as Manfredonia’s childhood home.
Pool reporter Dave Owens, of the Hartford Courant, contributed to this story.