Details still scarce in New Fairfield murder-suicide
NEW FAIRFIELD — Days after the murder-suicide of a local couple, state police have released little information about the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
New Fairfield resident Michael Ciorra died Monday from a blunt injury of the head and stab wounds to the torso, while Jennifer Ciorra died from acute carbon monoxide intoxication, the medical examiner’s office said. The office ruled her death a suicide.
It is still unclear exactly when the couple died or how authorities were alerted to their deaths.
But state police said their investigation began at 4:30 p.m. Monday on Cornell Road, where property records show that Michael, 51, and Jennifer, 47, bought a home in 2003.
The Western District Major Crime unit is actively investigating and there is no threat to the public, state police said.
Michael Ciorra was a director of finance for Globalfoundries at its manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, N.Y., company spokeswoman Erica McGill confirmed. Globalfoundries creates semiconductors and has 16,000 employees across the world.
“We are very saddened by this tragic incident and extend our condolences to his family,” she said in an email. “Grief counseling is being made available on site to help support our employees at this time.”
Ciorra also worked for six years at IBM in East Fishkill, and earned his master’s degree in accounting and finance from Fordham University, and received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pace University, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Little information was available about Jennifer Ciorra.
Attempts to reach family members were unsuccessful Wednesday. Neighbors said the couple had at least one child.
First Selectman Pat Del Monaco directed questions to state police.
“I would like for people to respect the privacy of the family,” she said. “It’s a difficult situation.”
This is the town’s first murder since May 1, 2017, when 32-year-old Steven Flood raped and murdered his roommate in a home they shared near Candlewood Lake.
State police declined to confirm the couple’s names, citing a state statute protecting victims of family violence.
This statute is under laws on criminal procedure and it is debated whether it applies to what police departments can release, said Matthew Reed, a staff attorney for the Freedom of Information Commission.
He said it is unclear whether the statute applies in this case.
“Your privacy right ended when you died, so I don’t know if it’s really a privacy violation there,” Reed said. “But it certainly is not uncommon to put forth that exception.”
But the state legislature is considering a bill that would prevent law enforcement from releasing the names and addresses of victims of family violence.
This could become problematic in situations like murder-suicides because there could be “secret homicide victims,” Reed said.
“Although we certainly understand the desire to protect certain people, that is the challenge you face,” he said.
Stephen Sedensky, state’s attorney’s in Danbury, said his office is involved in the state police investigation.
“But if there is obviously no one to prosecute, then there would not be any court action,” he said. “But we do want the police to do their investigation.”
State police do not have a time frame for how long the investigation will take.
The length of murder-suicide investigations vary, Sedensky said.
“It really depends on the case,” he said. “They can be short as maybe a month. They could go on for quite a while when trying to determine whether or not it was indeed a suicide.”
No one answered the door at the couple’s home Wednesday morning.
Two copies of the Wall Street Journal lay at the bottom of their driveway, but the front yard was empty, aside from a beach toy near the front door.
A broom, leaf bag, firewood and brown pots for plants sat near the side door. A black, metal fence blocked the backyard, where green lawn chairs were stacked.
Neighbors on Cornell Road did not answer their doors Wednesday morning, or said they did not know the couple.
“I don’t think many of the neighbors did,” said, Mark Havira, who lives across the street from the couple.
Havira said he saw fire engines and other emergency cars on the road around 5 p.m. Monday, followed by about five state police cars. A firefighter told him the crews were there for CPR, but Havira said he suspected that was not the case when a state trooper came to his door to tell him no one was in danger.
“I had no clue what was going on,” Havira said.
He said the couple had children, but he did not know how many. Havira’s son said he sometimes saw the family getting out of its car when he ran on the street.
One woman, who was going for a jog on the road Wednesday morning, said the couple had a son on the New Fairfield Flash Club, the track team for the middle school. She said she met Michael Ciorra once.
“He was very nice and encouraging to his son,” the woman said.
School administrators sent an email Tuesday evening to families and staff saying they were aware of a “sad event” affecting a family in the district.
Students are on spring break, but counselors were available at the middle school from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and will be offered again during that time on Thursday. Support will also be offered next week when school resumes.
“Unfortunately, we cannot provide more details,” the email said. “However, we will provide an update concerning support services later in the week.”