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A fugitive college student suspected of killing two people before going on the run may have originally been looking for a woman he knew when he encountered his first alleged victim, according to the man's wife.
Cyndi DeMers — whose husband Ted DeMers was killed with a machete after authorities say he offered to give 23-year-old Peter Manfredonia a ride to his motorcycle — told the Associated Press that Manfredonia may have been looking for a female acquaintance, who lived next door to the DeMers family, when he crossed paths with the couple.
Cyndi DeMers said she and her husband saw Manfredonia walking down the road in front of their Willington, Connecticut home on Friday.
Manfredonia, who was wearing a motorcycle helmet, told the couple his motorcycle had broken down nearby and said he knew a woman who lived in the neighborhood.
“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,” Cyndi DeMers told the news outlet.
Ted DeMers offered to give Manfredonia a ride back to his motorcycle, but he’d never return home and instead was killed by a machete. Another man who tried to intervene in the alleged attack suffered serious injuries to his hand, but is said to be in stable condition on Tuesday, according to local station WVIT.
Cyndi DeMers told the AP she now believes her husband “got in the way” of Manfredonia’s plan to go visit the woman he knew and claimed the woman’s father told her they had been considering getting a restraining order against Manfredonia after he'd visited their house in the past.
“He was clearly walking to her home with a mission, with a machete in his backpack,” Cyndi DeMers said of Manfredonia that day.
Police have urged the woman's family not to return to their home until Mandredonia is taken into custody, Cyndi DeMers said.
While in the Willington area, authorities believe Manfredonia broke into another home and stole several guns as well as a vehicle he later abandoned on Sunday in Derby, Connecticut following an apparent crash.
They believe Manfredonia then went to the home of Derby resident and his friend Nicholas Eisele, 23. Eisele was later found dead in his home. Eisele's girlfriend and her black Volkswagen Jetta were missing.
The girlfriend was later found unharmed at a rest stop near Paterson, New Jersey, along with the missing vehicle.
Investigators believe that after Manfredonia left the woman, he took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania according a release from the Pennsylvania State Police.
Manfredonia was last spotted walking down a set of train tracks in East Stroudsburg carrying a duffle bag “full of guns” that he had stolen during the home invasion, police said.
The multi-state manhunt to find the accused killer continues this week as his family and authorities pleaded with the college student to turn himself in.
“Peter, we’ve talked to your family,” Connecticut State Police Lt. John Aiello said at a Tuesday evening press conference according to the Hartford Courant. "We’ve talked to your friends and your roommates. All of them have said the same thing, that this behavior is out of the ordinary for you.”
Aiello told Manfredonia that if he called 911 to turn himself in, he would be kept safe.
“I want you to know that we are continuing our investigation,” he said. “One thing we are missing right now is you. We want you to be able to tell your story. We are here to listen to you.”
Authorities have also asked the public to be on alert for a stolen Black Hyundai Santa Fe with the license plate KYW-1650. They believe its possible Manfredonia may have taken the vehicle because it had disappeared “from the area where he was last seen,” according to the state police.
Michael Dolan, an attorney hired by Manfredonia’s family to represent him, said Monday that the college student had suffered from mental health issues in recent years.
“Now Peter, if you are listening, you are loved,” Dolan said. “Your parents, your sisters, your entire family loves you. Nobody wants any harm to come to you. It is time to let the healing process begin. It is time to surrender. ... Please turn yourself in.”
Dolan said Manfredonia’s family is “in shock” by the allegations against him.
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