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Warrant: Son, wife also suspects in court shooting

Thursday - 2/14/2013, 7:10am  ET

CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN
Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) -- Authorities who uncovered a small arsenal kept by a onetime police officer who killed his former daughter-in-law and another woman at a Delaware courthouse said in a search warrant affidavit that investigators suspect the gunman's wife and son of helping to plot the slaying.

Monday's killings were the culmination of a bitter, years-long custody battle involving the slain woman and the gunman's son. The gunman, Thomas Matusiewicz, had previously complained that his family wasn't getting justice in a lawsuit she filed against them over the kidnapping of the pair's three daughters.

Matusiewicz (muh-TOO'-suh-wits) complained in an August 2011 letter to a Delaware judge that he and his family had no money to defend themselves in the lawsuit Christine Belford filed as her ex-husband David Matusiewicz awaited sentencing for taking the girls to Central America.

"We've lost or spent over a million dollars trying to get our grand-daughters to safety and now THERE IS NO MONEY LEFT AND THEY ARE STILL IN CUSTODY OF THEIR MOTHER (who has been in the care of someone in the mental health profession for over 20 years)!," Thomas and his wife, Lenore Matusiewicz, wrote in boldface letters.

"Is it true as they say, you only get the amount of justice you can afford?" they added. "Well, I guess we aren't going to be getting any."

Delaware State Police said Thomas Matusiewicz, 68, walked into the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington on Monday and shot and killed Belford, 39, and her friend Laura Mulford, 47, before taking his own life.

According to an affidavit filed by Texas authorities to search Thomas Matusiewicz's home in Edcouch, Texas, he was carrying handwritten death certificates for Belford and Timothy Hitchings, an attorney representing her in the divorce and custody battle, when he entered the Delaware courthouse.

Texas authorities also said in the affidavit that Thomas Matusiewicz, his wife and his son were all suspected of "intentionally and knowingly participating in a murder."

Sgt. Paul Shavack, a spokesman for the Delaware State Police, had no immediate comment about the Texas affidavit naming David and Lenore Matusiewicz as suspects. He also declined to discuss details of papers found on Thomas Matusiewicz's body.

Law enforcement officials in Texas found eight guns found inside the Matusiewicz home and in a recreational vehicle on the property, and five more guns at a storage unit in Donna, Texas. Investigators said record checks on all the weapons came back clear. Thomas Matusiewicz once worked as a police officer in Vineland, N.J.

Authorities also seized several boxes and jars of ammunition, letters, court documents, Veterans Affairs documents for Thomas Matusiewicz, who served in the Navy, and a book entitled "Kill All the Lawyers."

Hitchings said in an email that he had no firsthand information about being targeted.

"It's still being investigated," he said. "I will say that Thomas Matusiewicz likely resented my representing Christine."

Neither David Matusiewicz nor his mother has been arrested in connection with the shooting, but David Matusiewicz is being detained by federal authorities who say he has violated the terms of his probation. Authorities allege in court documents that he failed to disclose that he spent the night before the shooting at a home in Elkton, Md., and that he has not paid restitution and child support as ordered.

Thomas Matusiewicz's daughter, Amy Gonzalez, declined to comment Wednesday.

"We will let you know when we are ready to speak as a family mourning for the loss of all victims in this tragedy," she said.

A tearful Lenore Matusiewicz told a Philadelphia TV news station on Wednesday that she had no idea of what her husband was planning.

"I wish I had known," she told WPVI-TV. "Maybe I could have done something to stop it."

"Our hearts go out to the other families, to those who were killed and to those who were wounded," she added.

She said, "I didn't want anybody dead."

Lenore Matusiewicz also said that she believes her husband's actions may have been affected by a brain tumor on the left side.

"It controls reasoning, memory, judgment, decision-making -- all of the higher functions. And it changed him," she told the news station.

The Delaware shooting was the culmination of years of acrimony in a bitter divorce and custody battle. At the heart of the dispute were the daughters of Belford and David Matusiewicz, now ages 7, 9 and 10.

David Matusiewicz pleaded guilty in 2009 to federal fraud and kidnapping charges after fleeing to Nicaragua in a motor home with his mother and the three girls.

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