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MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — As the killer of her boyfriend was about to be sentenced to 55 years in prison Wednesday, Shannon Spies said the plea deal provided no solace. It couldn’t bring back Nicholas Eisele, or erase the trauma of being a kidnapping victim.
On March 24, 2020, Peter Manfredonia shot Eisele to death in Spies’ apartment in Derby, Connecticut. He then proceeded to abduct Spies, leading to a six-day manhunt in several states before authorities captured him. Two days before the shooting, Manfredonia had killed another man and seriously wounded a second in a Samurai sword attack on the other side of the state.
“I won’t lie. This plea deal does nothing for me except close the door on this court case,” Spies, 25, said during emotional testimony at Manfredonia’s sentencing hearing in Milford Superior Court. “The damage can never be undone. None of this brings Nick back or makes me feel whole again.
“I will never be the person I was before then,” she said. “I will never feel safe, even in a room surrounded by only people I know. I will always look at the world differently.”
Spies said she hoped her testimony “haunts” Manfredonia for “the rest of his life.”
Manfredonia, 26, a former University of Connecticut student, wore a tan prison uniform with his hands in cuffs and apologized to Spies and Eisele’s family. He also was scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday to another 55-year prison term for the sword attack in Willington. He pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in both cases.
Before he spoke, Manfredonia’s lawyer, Michael Dolan, said his client’s mental health problems contributed to the spree of violence but were not an excuse. For most of the hearing, Manfredonia looked straight ahead — not looking at the witnesses and showing little emotion. It remained unclear what prompted the attacks.
“There are no words that can possibly atone for what I have done,” he said to Eisele’s family. “My actions were nothing short of reprehensible. … Nick was a good young man to whom I felt no ill will or malice. My actions were senseless. Please know you have my deepest apology.”
Eisele and Manfredonia were school classmates growing up in Newtown, Connecticut, the town where 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. Eisele’s sister, Jessica, survived the school shooting.
“As a survivor of the Sandy Hook school shooting, I was forced to relive the trauma and pain of 12/14 as Peter used the same source of violence to end my brother’s life,” Jessica Eisele said in court Wednesday. “Peter Manfredonia is a monster who must be punished for what he has done. My brother is gone and will forever be. There’s no way for me and family to recover from that.”
About 40 relatives and friends of Nicholas Eisele filled the courtroom, with his mother and several others testifying. Many wept at times and were comforted by others.
After killing Eisele, Manfredonia forced Spies into her car and fled the state. He let her go, physically unharmed, near Columbia, New Jersey. Following searches in Pennsylvania, authorities finally captured Manfredonia near a truck stop in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Two days before shooting Eisele, Manfredonia killed Ted DeMers, 62, and seriously wounded an 80-year-old man who lost several fingers and part of his ear in a Samurai sword attack.
After the attack, police said Manfredonia broke into another man’s house in Willington and held him hostage for about 24 hours before taking off with his truck and firearms. The man later told police that Manfredonia told him “he just flipped.”
Ansonia/Milford State’s Attorney Margaret Kelley called the killing of Eisele and the kidnapping of Spies horrific and a “senseless tragedy” that severely damaged others’ lives.
Judge Peter Brown said the 55-year sentence would do nothing to dull the pain suffered by Spies and Eisele’s family.
Spies’ testimony was the first time she spoke publicly about the ordeal. Though she didn’t detail much about the hours she spent with Manfredonia as his captive, she said he tried to hug her at one point while apologizing for killing Eisele.
“The version of myself that went to bed with my boyfriend — my best friend and the sweetest man I’ve ever met — on May 23 was not alive anymore when my parents picked me up from a state police headquarters in New Jersey on May 24,” she testified.
“I lost absolutely everything I had,” Spies said. “I lost my best friend and my partner. There’s no telling how amazing our future could have been and I was robbed of ever knowing that happiness. I was robbed of ever knowing peace again, of feeling safe anywhere, even in my own home. I was robbed of my home. My apartment was a crime scene.”
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