The attorney for the family of a University of Connecticut student wanted in a deadly three-rampage said he has “struggled with mental health issues” and 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.”
The FBI and police in three states are hunting for Peter Manfredonia, 23, who was last seen on foot in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, carrying a large duffel bag that may contain weapons stolen from one of the victims.
He’s accused of 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.
Police have not released a motive for the terrifying crime spree, 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 in Willington, Connecticut.
Cynthia DeMers told the Hartford Courant that her husband and a neighbor had offered Manfredonia a ride back to his red motorcycle. Minutes later, both men were found gravely wounded by what was described only as an “edged” instrument. DeMers, a woodworker, could not be revived, and police said the second victim’s injuries were extremely serious.
Later that night, police said, Manfredonia broke into a house in Willington and held the owner prisoner before leaving early Saturday 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. He left her and the car in New Jersey and was then spotted in East Stroudsburg.
Manfredonia grew up in Newtown, the community devastated by a 2012 school massacre. His Facebook page shows he raised money for anti-violence efforts in recent years.