Police have put out an alert for a stolen SUV that a University of Connecticut student may be using as a getaway vehicle following a bloody three-day rampage.
The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe was taken from an area in East Stroudburg, Pennsylvania, where fugitive murder suspect Peter Manfredonia, 23, was last seen on Monday.
The FBI and police in three states are hunting for Manfredonia, who is accused of a shocking crime spree: hacking to death a Connecticut woodworker and severely wounding an elderly man in Willington, breaking into a home and holding the owner captive overnight, and killing an acquaintance and kidnapping his girlfriend, 23.
Manfredonia—a former high-school football player who grew up on the same street as Sandy Hook school massacre gunman Adam Lanza—is believed to be carrying a large duffel bag full of weapons stolen from one of the victims.
An attorney for Manfredonia’s family said the student “struggled with mental health issues” as he urged him to turn himself in.
“It’s time to let the healing process begin,” lawyer Michael Dolan said at a Monday evening press conference. “It’s time to surrender.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Dolan said that before the crime spree, Manfredonia had no history of violence. “This really came out of nowhere,” he told Connecticut Hearst Media.
Police have not released a motive for the explosion of violence but Dolan began his press conference by describing the suspect as a former honor student and athlete who sought help for mental illness.
“You won’t be surprised to hear that Peter has struggled with mental health issues over the past several years. He sought the help of a number of therapists, and he’s had the support of his parents and loved ones to help him through.”
Then, directly addressing the fugitive, Dolan said, “You are loved. Your parents, your sisters, your entire family loves you. Nobody wants any harm to come to you.”
He added, “Peter, from your parents, ‘We love you. Please turn yourself in.’”
Dolan, who did not answer any questions about the case, also expressed condolences to the families of the victims.
Authorities have been looking for Manfredonia since Friday, when he was seen leaving the scene of the brutal assault on woodworker Ted DeMers and an elderly neighbor in Willington, Connecticut.
His sister-in-law Pat Jones told NBC Connecticut that the college student knew a family who lived on the same road.
“We think that’s how he established trust with Ted,” she said, explaining that DeMers offered to give Manfredonia a ride on his four-wheeler down to his motorcycle, which was parked in a cul de sac.
“As he was driving past this neighbor’s house, the neighbor saw something sticking out of the top of [Manfredonia’s] backpack. The neighbor got very concerned,” Jones told the station. “A few minutes later he heard this awful shrieking.”
Manfredonia allegedly hacked to death DeMers, 62, with what’s been described only as an “edged” instrument—and also attacked an 86-year-old neighbor who came out to help and is still hospitalized.
Jones said that Manfredonia took off on the red motorcycle when another neighbor who knew him started yelling. She said that neighbor’s family had been so disturbed by his behavior that they considered seeking an order of protection two weeks ago.
“This was intentional. This was not just some random crazy person who flew off the handle. He had a plan,” she said.
Later that night, police said, Manfredonia broke into a house in Willington and held the owner prisoner before leaving early Sunday with food, long guns, a pistol, and a car, which he later crashed and abandoned near a state park in Derby.
Authorities say he then headed to a Derby home where he allegedly killed an acquaintance, 23-year-old Nicholas J. Eisele, stole a black Volkswagen Jetta, and abducted Eisele’s girlfriend.
Pennsylvania state police said Manfredonia left the Jetta and the woman, who was unharmed, in New Jersey and hopped an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg. He walked behind the Walmart and was last seen following train tracks on foot. Police said they have not definitively tied to him to the missing Santa Fe but urged the public to report any sightings of it.