3 relatives of Del. courthouse gunman indicted

AP News
Posted: Aug 08, 2013 6:43 PM

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging three relatives of a gunman who killed two women at a Delaware courthouse before taking his own life with stalking crimes.

The four-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, accuses the widow, son and daughter of Thomas Matusiewicz of conspiracy, interstate stalking and cyberstalking. Prosecutors said the three could face life in prison.

The indictment stems from a Feb. 11 shooting in which Matusiewicz, 68, of Edcouch, Texas, killed his former daughter-in-law, Christine Belford, 39, and a friend, Laura Mulford, 47, in the lobby of the New Castle County courthouse before a scheduled child support hearing involving his granddaughters. Matusiewicz then exchanged gunfire with police before shooting himself in the head.

Among those indicted is the gunman's son, David Matusiewicz, who had been scheduled to be released Monday from a federal detention center in New York but remains in custody. Matusiewicz, 46, was arrested after the shooting and sentenced to six months in federal prison for violating probation on kidnapping and fraud charges. Those charges stemmed from the 2007 abduction of his three daughters in a custody dispute with Belford, his ex-wife.

David Matusiewicz's mother, Lenore, and sister, Amy Gonzalez, were arrested in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, authorities said.

The bulk of the 25-page indictment accuses the three defendants of conspiring over the course of more than three years, starting in December 2009, to stalk Belford and her family "with the intent to kill and injure and harass and intimidate ..." Prosecutors say the three accused Belford in email communications and Internet postings of abusing and neglecting the three daughters she had with David Matusiewicz.

"This was an orchestrated scheme to intimidate and harass Christine Belford and her children," acting U.S. Attorney David Weiss said.

In a jailhouse interview with The Associated Press last month, David Matusiewicz expressed concern that authorities would continue to try to come after him and his family, citing the level of publicity the case has received.

"Because of the media in Delaware, it seems to be the best thing to come down as hard as they can," he said. "Having seen what I've seen, having experienced this, I wouldn't put anything past them."

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden issued a statement Thursday saying his agency has remained "deeply concerned" that Belford's daughters, who are under state-supervised care, were at risk of harm by members of the Matusiewicz family.

David Matusiewicz pleaded guilty in 2009 to fraud and kidnapping after taking his three daughters to Central America in 2007. He and his mother, who served more than a year in prison for child endangerment for her role in the kidnapping, have said they were trying to protect one of the daughters from being sexually abused by Belford, an assertion a federal judge said had not been proven.

The indictment also accuses the three defendants of interstate stalking and cyberstalking that resulted in the death of Belford.

David Matusiewicz told the AP last month that he had no idea his father was planning to kill Belford.

"I can't tell you what was going through his head that morning," Matusiewicz said. "We didn't talk about what he did."

But immediately after the shooting, authorities in Texas suggested in a search warrant affidavit that Thomas, Lenore, and David Matusiewicz were all suspected of "intentionally and knowingly participating in a murder."

David Matusiewicz said he was shocked by what authorities told him after the courthouse shooting.

"They said he had like an arsenal in his car," said Matusiewicz, who was shown photos by authorities of the weapons found in one of the family's vehicles.

"I was thinking, what in the hell were you doing?" he recalled.

Matusiewicz, whose probation terms required him to stay away from guns, said his father insisted on bringing a gun with him when traveling from Texas to Delaware, a decision that resulted in David and his mother driving separately in another car. But he said he had no idea that his father had a gun with him when they went to the courthouse.

David Matusiewicz did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the indictment. His mother, who was in custody, did not immediately respond to messages left on her cell phone.