EDINBURG — An Hidalgo County search warrant links the son and wife of the Edcouch man identified as the shooter at a Delaware courthouse this week to the slayings.
Law enforcement officers who descended on the man’s mobile home Tuesday discovered multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammo alongside family portraits and Department of Veterans Affairs records addressed to 68-year-old Thomas Matusiewicz.
He died Monday after he shot and killed his former daughter-in-law and another woman, while also firing at uniformed police officers, authorities said.
The man’s wife, 67-year-old Leonor Matusiewicz, and his son, 45-year-old David Matusiewicz, are also suspected in the shooting, according to the Hidalgo County search warrant affidavit for the family’s home here.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, the Associated Press reported.
In all, authorities here found a total of 13 different firearms within the Edouch property and a Donna storage locker. Books titled Kill All the Lawyers and New I.D. in America, which includes information on how to create a new identity, were also in the home, according to an evidence inventory from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement also found a white envelope with several keys inside addressed to Amy Gonzalez, Thomas Matusiewicz’s daughter, the affidavit for a second search warrant states. The letter inside listed the Donna storage locker’s location and directed her to keep the weapons inside, according to the document.
Gonzalez told authorities her three family members lived at the Edcouch home and left for Delaware on Feb. 4.The killings were the culmination of a bitter, yearslong custody battle involving courthouse slaying victim Christine Belford, 39, and the gunman’s son. Matusiewicz, had previously complained that his family wasn’t getting justice in a lawsuit that she filed against them over the kidnapping of the pair’s daughters, now ages 7, 9 and 10, The Associated Press reported.
Delaware State Police said Matusiewicz walked into the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Del., on Monday and shot and killed Belford and her friend Laura Mulford, 47, before taking his own life.
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 on Monday, according to the Hidalgo County search warrant affidavit for his home.
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. Federal authorities say he failed to disclose that he spent the night before the shooting at a home in Elkton, Md., and has not paid restitution and child support as ordered.
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.”
The Associated Press reported Matusiewicz complained in a 2011 letter to a Delaware Superior Court judge that he and his family had no money to defend themselves in a lawsuit filed by Christine Belford after her ex-husband, David Matusiewicz, kidnapped the couple’s three daughters and took them to Central America.
At the time Thomas Matusiewicz and his wife wrote the letter in August 2011, their son was serving time in federal prison for kidnapping and fraud.
“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 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.”
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.
David Matusiewicz, who was released from prison last year, kidnapped the girls after telling Belford they were going to Disney World for two weeks. The two were divorced and sharing custody at the time. Prosecutors say he forged his wife’s signature to obtain nearly $250,000 from a Delaware bank, then sent the money to his parents’ bank account and had his father transfer the money to a Bank of New Zealand account.
Belford sued her former husband, his sister, Amy, and his parents in 2009, claiming they conspired to carry out the kidnapping. She sought compensation for “medical, therapeutic, counseling, travel and other expenses.”
Belford dropped the lawsuit in December 2011 after Thomas and Lenore Matusiewicz filed for bankruptcy protection in Texas.
“It became obvious that it was not going to be collectable,” said Belford’s attorney, James Woods. “I had no doubt she would win, and probably a very significant amount of money, for that torture they put her through.”
Woods said the lawsuit was an attempt by Belford “just to try to get some justice.”
“They had put her through hell, and it wasn’t just David, it was certainly Lenore... and I found it incredibly hard to believe that Tom didn’t know anything about it and participated in it, and Amy the sister as well.”
Woods said that after Belford dropped the lawsuit, Thomas Matusiewicz sent him two thick packages of documents containing “all kinds of scandalous and ridiculous allegations” that Christine was abusing the children and was an unfit mother. The allegations were never substantiated, Belford was never charged and she was given full custody of the girls.
“It was obvious that there was so much venom they had directed toward Christine that it was almost palpable,” Woods said.
Lenore Matusiewicz made similar allegations in a handwritten letter she addressed to Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden in January 2011. She was on probation at the time after serving more than a year in Delaware state prison for endangering the welfare of her three granddaughters related to the kidnapping.
She said her son was “paying the price for trying to protect his children....”
A federal judge who sentenced David Matusiewicz to prison noted that he never expressed any concern that his ex-wife was abusing their children until after he had been arrested.
A state judge who denied a motion by Lenore Matusiewicz to modify her prison sentence in 2010 also expressed skepticism about the abuse claims.
“Sadly, even if all the allegations of the defendant and her son are true, their decisions only seemed to harm the children more,” the judge wrote.
The Associated Press contributed reporting from Randall Chase in Dover, Del., and from Christopher Sherman in Edinburg. Monitor reporter Jacqueline Armendariz also contributed to this report.