Sons list doubts on prominent parents' murder-suicide ruling

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 14, 2015 11:36 AM

The sons of a prominent New Jersey couple say a prosecutor concluded that their father killed their mother and himself, then made the evidence fit the theory.

Mark Sheridan sent an open letter Monday to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office laying out why he and his brothers fault the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office's finding on the deaths of John and Joyce Sheridan. Mark Sheridan, a Republican election lawyer, and his three brothers began publicly casting doubt on the finding released last month that their father had killed himself.

"The prosecutor's office determined day one that this was a murder-suicide and from that point in time, they did little if anything to look for answers," Sheridan said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, a day after his letter to Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano. Sheridan also released other documents, including autopsy reports on his parents. He had previously said he and his brothers plan to sue over the determination that his father killed himself.

Jack Bennett, a spokesman for Soriano, said Tuesday that he would not comment on the letter.

John and Joyce Sheridan were found in their home in Skillman after a fire broke out there in September.

He was a 72-year-old former state Cabinet member and a lawyer who was working as the CEO of Camden-based Cooper Health System. She was a 69-year-old retired high school teacher. Their deaths became a major mystery in New Jersey.

It took six months before Soriano's office announced its conclusion that John Sheridan had killed his wife, then himself.

In the new letter, Mark Sheridan asserts that prosecutors set out to prove that from the start and stuck to it, even as the evidence did not all line up.

Mark Sheridan says the autopsy on his father was rife with errors: The age was off by a year, and the height and weight were far off.

The letter raises the sons' other doubts. For instance, authorities said Joyce Sheridan had blood on her hands — evidence that she tried to fight off her attacker. Yet, Mark Sheridan says, no scratches were found on his father.

Mark Sheridan also focuses on the question of what weapon killed John Sheridan.

Prosecutors said a melted piece of metal was found near where his body had been. But Mark Sheridan said it was not clear whether that was the instrument used to kill his father.

He also said prosecutors misrepresented DNA evidence found on the knife used to kill Joyce Sheridan. It did match his father, Mark Sheridan — and about half the men in the world, he said.

___

Follow Mulvihill at http://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill