DOVER, Del. (AP) — Attorneys are seeking permission from a Delaware judge to sell the home of a woman killed in a February courthouse shooting (see related story) in order to pay her debts.
The request came in a Chancery Court filing last week by an attorney for another lawyer who was appointed pursuant to a Family Court order as the personal representative of Christine Belford’s estate and guardian ad litem for her three youngest daughters.
The three girls were the subject of a bitter child custody battle that led to the Feb. 11 shooting in Wilmington of Belford, 39, and a friend Laura Mulford, 47.
Authorities said Belford’s former father-in-law, Thomas Matusiewicz, 68, killed her and Mulford as they arrived for a scheduled child support hearing, then took his own life after exchanging gunfire with police.
The gunman’s son, David Matusiewicz, 45, was later sentenced to six months in federal prison for violating probation on fraud and kidnapping charges related to the 2007 abduction of his three daughters.
Much of the court filing regarding Belford’s estate was made under seal, including a copy of the deed to Belford’s property, which is available as a public record through the New Castle County recorder of deeds.
“The decedent is a victim of a homicide. The perpetrator of such homicide is deceased,” attorney Jason Powell wrote in seeking court permission to file documents under seal.
“However, others remain under investigation as to their involvement, if any, in the homicide,” Powell added. “At least three (3) of four (4) beneficiaries of the estate are former relatives of the perpetrator and may be at further risk of harm or kidnap.”
No one else has been charged in the shooting, and officials have prohibited Belford’s former in-laws from having any contact with her daughters. Immediately after the shooting, authorities in Texas, where the gunman lived, suggested in a search warrant affidavit that Thomas Matusiewicz, his wife, Lenore, and his son were all suspected of “intentionally and knowingly participating in a murder.”
Sgt. Paul Shavack, a spokesman for the Delaware State Police, refused to say Monday whether Lenore and David Matusiewicz were still being investigated for possible involvement in the February shooting, but that the investigation is continuing.
“As in this case and any case, detectives will continue their investigation until all investigative leads have been exhausted and all of their investigative questions have been thoroughly probed and answered,” Shavack wrote in an emailed response.
David Matusiewicz pleaded guilty in 2009 to fraud and kidnapping after taking his three daughters to Central America in 2007. He was released from prison last year but taken into custody again after the courthouse shooting. Lenore Matusiewicz served more than a year in a Delaware state prison for endangering the welfare of her three granddaughters after helping her son take them to Central America.
Powell did not return telephone and email messages seeking comment on the Chancery Court filing and his reasons for submitting documents under seal. The Associated Press is challenging the sealed filings of several exhibits, including an agreement of sale for Belford’s home, an appraisal of the property, an inventory of the estate, a list of Belford’s debts, and an affidavit supporting a sale of the property at less than its appraised value.
According to the recorder of deeds office, Belford bought a home on Donegal Court in Newark for $352,000 in 2007.
“It is necessary to sell the real estate of the decedent as the debts and expenses exceed the personal assets of the estate,” wrote Powell, who is representing attorney Kimberly E.C. Lawson as personal representative of Belford’s estate and guardian ad litem for the three girls.
Lawson also did not respond to messages seeking comment.
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