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Former UConn student pleads guilty to murder, assault charges for Willington attack

He pled guilty to charges related to the attack in Willington and is expected to do the same next week for murder and kidnapping charges in Derby.

MILFORD, Conn. — A former University of Connecticut student plead guilty to charges in relation to a series of crimes including a vicious murder in Willington in May 2020.

Peter Manfredonia, 26, pled guilty to murder, assault in the first degree, and home invasion charges in connection to the death of Theodore Demers, 62, in Willington and the assault of 80-year-old John Franco, his attorney Michael Dolan confirmed. He faces up to 55 years in prison and will be sentenced on April 20.

Manfredonia is also expected to plead guilty next week to charges in connection to a second murder and a kidnapping in Derby, according to his attorney.

According to investigators, Manfredonia attacked and killed Demers with a sword and assault another man on May 22, 2020. A short time later he broke into a Willington home and held a man at gunpoint for two days.

State's Attorney Matthew Gedansky said the victims and their families in both cases supported the plea bargain, which was the result of months of discussions.

Manfredonia then stole the man's truck and made his way to Derby, where he crashed the vehicle in a state park. 

A short time later, Derby Police were called to Nick Eisele's apartment nearby, where Eislele's body was found. 

Eisele, 23, and Manfredonia knew each other from their childhood in Newtown and Eisele had been concerned about Manfredonia showing up.  

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Manfredonia left the scene in a Volkswagen Jetta along with a woman who also lived in the apartment. 

Several hours later, police received word that the woman had been dropped off in New Jersey and had been picked up by a good Samaritan.

Manfredonia was later spotted in Pennsylvania and was captured by police in Maryland several days later.

Dolan, Manfredonia's lawyer, said Manfredonia was having mental health problems at the time and it was difficult for him to get help during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.

“His mental health issues weren’t being addressed and unfortunately he had a psychotic episode,” Dolan told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Dolan said Manfredonia will serve all sentences concurrently. He said that according to the prosecution, the victims of Manfredonia signed off on the plea deal.

Doug Stewart is the Senior Digital Content Producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.


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