By Robin Rieger
VINELAND, N.J. (CBS) – “I was absolutely floored and still am,” said Jill Matusiewicz Gohr of Bayville, New Jersey.
She says she hasn’t seen her uncle, Tom Matusiewicz in years and was shocked when police identified him as the New Castle County courthouse gunman who fatally shot his former daughter-in-law Christine Belford and her friend Laura Beth Mulford Monday (see related story http://cbsloc.al/WEuebu).
“He took the mother of his grandchildren away from them. To what end?” she said.
The families had so rarely kept in touch. Jill says she didn’t learn her cousin, David Matusiewicz – Tom’s son, had kidnapped his and Belford’s three daughters in 2007, shortly after the couple divorced.
“I was sitting at my computer and punched in Matusiewicz just to see what popped up and America’s most wanted was the first thing that popped up,” she said.
The ex-spouses were due at court for a child support hearing following a long, bitter custody battle when, police say, the elder Matusiewicz opened fire on his victims.
“He was a police officer, we never expected this kind of behavior from him,” said Jill.
In Vineland, New Jersey, Tom Matusiewicz was a police officer from 1974 until 1978.
“He always seemed a hardworking guy, always worried about his family,” said Former Vineland mayor Robert Romano.
Romano says he and Tom Matusiewicz went to the police academy and walked the beat together until Matusiewicz resigned, reportedly over disciplinary issues.
Monday’s turn of events shocked Romano.
“I would have never thought of it. He was a family man and I think this all stemmed from his family problems,” said Romano. “I think he probably thought he was doing his son a favor.”
A family member says Christine Belford called the courthouse before the hearing to see if she could do the hearing over the phone or some other way, because she feared going in person, hearing threats had been made about her.
The family member says she was told she would have to appear in person.
No one from the courthouse could comment when asked about this report, citing the ongoing police investigation.
A Delaware state police spokesman says he was not aware of the family members claim but still would be unable to comment as the investigation continued.