At 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, a detective from the Connecticut State Police was standing behind a truck stop in Hagerstown, Maryland, describing for a U.S. marshal a fugitive wanted in a terrifying crime spree. The target, he said, was a 23-year-old man who stood about 6-foot-3.
Suddenly, from a distance of about 20 feet, the detective spotted a hulking figure walking along the woodline. He peered at him and saw he was wearing red sneakers and had fair skin and dark hair.
It was Peter Manfredonia, the University of Connecticut student who allegedly murdered two people in his home state and kidnapped a woman—and then eluded authorities for six days by jumping from state to state in stolen cars and Ubers.
The gathered law enforcement officers turned on Manfredonia with their guns drawn and told him to get on the ground.
“He did not resist and absolutely no force was used to effect the arrest,” Lt. Michael Pendleton said Thursday afternoon. “He wasn’t agitated at this time. He followed all directions from law enforcement.”
In fact, Manfredonia led police about 200 yards into the woods to a black duffel bag where they found one gun. He’s now being held on murder charges, awaiting extradition from Maryland to Connecticut; no motive has been disclosed.
It was a peaceful end to a manhunt that authorities had worried would result in more bloodshed. For days, they had warned the public that Manfredonia was armed and extremely dangerous, and his family said he was suffering from mental illness.
When he was finally captured, “he said that he was tired and scared,” Michael Dolan, an attorney for Manfredonia’s family, told reporters.
Manfredonia’s alleged rampage began Friday when woodworker Ted Demers—who was reportedly giving him a ride to his motorcycle—was hacked to death in Willington, Connecticut. An 80-year-old neighbor on the same road who tried to help was also severely injured.
Police said the killer later broke into a nearby home, held the owner captive, and fled with his truck and a duffel bag full of guns.
After crashing the truck, Manfredonia allegedly went to the home of acquaintance Nicholas Eisele, 23, and fatally shot him in the head. He then kidnapped Eisele’s girlfriend and drove her to New Jersey, where he left her unharmed, police said.
From there, he hopped in an Uber to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, where he was caught on video walking on some railroad tracks. Police said he apparently stole yet another vehicle—a Hyundai Santa Fe that was found Wednesday near a Sheetz convenience store in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Manfredonia was also captured on video making a purchase in that Sheetz.
Pennsylvania State Police said Manfredonia then took an Uber to Hagerstown.
“Doing the happy dance that all are safe,” DeMers’ widow, Cynthia, told the Hartford Courant. “My Ted is at peace and will continue to watch over our family. We will all move forward and continue on as he has instructed us to do.”
A spokesperson for the Eisele family told WTNH that “the healing process will not begin, will never begin, until and only until the successful prosecution, just sentence, and denial of any and all appeals of Peter Manfredonia.”
Manfredonia’s family had publicly urged him to surrender and said he had struggled with mental health issues and sought help in the last year. “It’s time to let the healing process begin,” Dolan said at a press conference on Monday.
In an effort to bring the manhunt to a peaceful conclusion, police issued a message directly to Manfredonia at a Tuesday press conference.
“We have talked to your family, 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. We know this is not who you are, Peter,” Connecticut State Police Lt. John Aiello said.
“I want you to know that we are continuing our investigation. The 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.”
Manfredonia is a former high school football player who grew up on the same street as Sandy Hook school massacre gunman Adam Lanza. He was enrolled at UConn but not living on campus.