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Thursday, March 14, 2002

03/14/02 Officials narrow murder evidence: Investigators meet with Margolies family for update

By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time

Investigators working on the 18-year-old Matthew Margolies murder case have narrowed down their evidence to a collection of crucial pieces that are now undergoing a second round of forensic testing, a state lab director said yesterday.

"Right now we're at the more technical second layer, so to speak, on the testing," said Major Timothy Palmbach, director of scientific services at the Department of Public Safety forensic science lab in Meriden.

The update was well-received yesterday when Maryann Margolies and her daughter Stacey met for three hours with investigators, including Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, Inspector Jim Rovella, Greenwich Police Sgt. Timothy Duff and Detective Gary Hoffkins, at the office of Greenwich attorney Tom Williams, who represents the family.

Matthew was 13 on Aug. 31, 1984, when he was stabbed, strangled and suffocated. His body was found five days later on a wooded hillside not far from his Pilgrim Drive home.

For more than a year, the investigative team that met yesterday has been turning up new leads as it re-investigates the unsolved homicide.

None of the meeting participants felt it was appropriate to discuss details of what took place at the meeting, but Williams said he was satisfied with how the case has progressed in recent months.

"I was pleased with the meeting and that's all I can say for now," Williams said.

Family members declined to comment at length about the meeting but Matthew's sister Stacey said she, too, was heartened by recent developments.

"We just don't want to disrupt what's going on right now," she said. "But it's encouraging."

Palmbach said the Margolies case is one of the top 40 cases being prioritized by the state.

"The process takes a lot of time," he said. "At any crime scene, a tremendous amount of evidence is gathered that ultimately proves to be extremely meaningless."

Palmbach added that there have not been definitive results on the testing at this point.

Morano, who is leading the investigation of the case, said the group has not had to deal with any major roadblocks and the case is proceeding as planned.

"We now know what we want to look at and we're in the process of doing so," Morano said. "We intend to conduct a thorough investigation. If and when we make an arrest, we want it to be a case we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt because that's the ultimate objective here."

Morano would not say how far the team was from making an arrest, nor would he comment about the pieces of evidence being looked at more thoroughly.

Matthew's body was discovered beneath a pile of rocks, branches and leaves, stripped to his undershorts and stabbed more than a dozen times with a knife. He had been strangled with his own clothing and suffocated with dirt that was forced down his throat. Police later determined that the young victim had been tortured before he was killed.

Eight people who either lived or worked in the Glenville area at the time of the boy's death were identified as suspects during the initial investigation, police said. They remain under suspicion.

Morano has said that the forensic science aspect of the renewed investigation holds promise because physical evidence from the homicide scene was well-preserved. Forensic scientists are employing the latest in DNA testing techniques, he said.

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