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Detective Sues Prosecutor’s Office Alleging Botched Murder Investigation

Longtime Detective Jeffrey Scozzafava recently made national headlines when he filed suit against the Somerset Prosecutor’s Office in Superior Court on April 20, 2016. In the lawsuit, Scozzafava accuses the prosecutor’s office of mishandling the murder investigation into the alleged murder-suicide deaths of Joyce and John Sheridan back in 2014.

Language taken from the filed lawsuit states, “It was common knowledge among detective assigned to the Forensic Unit that the Sheridan evidence was improperly collected, improperly preserved and subsequently destroyed.” Scozzafava, one of the detectives assigned to the high-profile case, had worked within the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Unit since 2007.

Here’s the backstory. Just before sunup on September 28, 2014 firefighters were called to the Sheridan residence in Skillman, New Jersey as smoked poured from the couple’s house. Upon entering, firefighters found Joyce and John Sheridan dead on the floor of their master bedroom where both had suffered multiple stab wounds.

After examining the crime scene, the prosecutor’s office determined that John had stabbed Joyce, set fire to the room, then turned the knife on himself. But most of the community remained doubtful. A group comprising of nearly 200 New Jersey residents including the couple’s four sons and three former New Jersey governors formed a group calling itself “Friends of John & Joyce Sheridan” and plead for the Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano to reopen the investigation.

In his pending lawsuit, Scozzafava claims the following:

  • Evidence found in the crime scene was left unsecured on the vehicle bay floor and stored in unsealed containers in the fingerprint lab.
  • The forensic team failed to properly process blood evidence.
  • Evidence was hastily placed in envelopes, making it vulnerable to contamination.
  • Fingerprints were searched using a “flashlight” method, which denotes the lack of scientific examination.

As of yet, neither Soriano nor any one else in the prosecutor’s office has offered any reactions to Scozzafava’s lawsuit.