Victim’s wife waited six years for murder arrests

In New London Police Department handout photos, Darius Armadore, left, and Gerjuan Tyus were charged in connection with the 2006 murder of Todd "T-Rek" Thomas in New London.
In New London Police Department handout photos, Darius Armadore, left, and Gerjuan Tyus were charged in connection with the 2006 murder of Todd "T-Rek" Thomas in New London. Handout photos courtesy New London Police Dept.

Keri Carter-Thomas got the phone call Monday for which she had waited nearly six years.

New London police, working with the Southeastern Connecticut Cold Case Unit, had obtained warrants charging two men with murdering her husband, Todd “T-Rek” Thomas, outside of Ernie’s Cafe on Bank Street in New London on Dec. 23, 2006.

Darius K. Armadore Sr., 32, formerly of Groton, was arraigned Monday in New London Superior Court on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Gerjuan R. “Callie” Tyus, 32, of New London, will be arraigned today on the same charges. Both men are incarcerated on unrelated charges.

Thomas, 30, had been shot in the head just two days before Christmas. Carter-Thomas, who had dated him since she was 16 and had two children with him, became obsessed with finding his killers. She went to Ernie’s and to other places her husband had been that night and spoke with anybody who would talk to her. She passed on information to the New London detectives assigned to the case and talked with them regularly.

Carter-Thomas had tears in her eyes as she sat in court Monday with Thomas’ father, John Thomas, her 18-year-old son and New London Detective Richard Curcuro, who she said was “the best in the whole world.”

She said she won’t miss any of Armadore and Tyus’ upcoming court dates. She wants to know why her husband was taken from her at such a young age.

“By what I’m told, he didn’t even see it coming,” she said. “He was just standing there smoking a cigarette. I want to know why.”

Carter-Thomas said she doesn’t think her husband knew Armadore, but that Thomas and Tyus may have been involved in an earlier incident. Tyus had been shot in the leg and back on Willetts Avenue in New London three weeks before Thomas’ death. Police were told that Tyus’ shooter had left in a white Lexus, which was what Thomas drove.

Carter-Thomas, who wanted her husband to stay away from the street life, said he told her in the weeks before his death that someone in New London was looking to kill him. She thinks their “beef” began when Tyus accused her husband of flattening the tires on his truck.

The arrest warrant affidavits detailing the case against the two men have been sealed for two weeks.

At the arraignment, Carter-Thomas watched calmly as Armadore was led into the courtroom by a judicial marshal and a correction officer. He is being held at the Northern Correctional Institution, which is the state’s “super max” prison for problem inmates, and wore a neon orange jumpsuit indicating he is a high security prisoner. He has a tattoo on his neck that says 617, a likely reference to the area code in the Boston area, where he once lived.

Armadore and Tyus both have extensive criminal histories.

In 2003, Armadore was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended after 20 months served, for nearly killing a man by stabbing him in the back at the Branford Manor housing complex in Groton. He told the sentencing judge that he was trying to protect himself, and his family members said he had turned his life around. Armadore is currently nearing the end of a 1½ year sentence for violation of a protective order.

Two days after Thomas was killed, Armadore was shot during a melee at a Providence nightclub. The bullet grazed his neck and he survived.

At the arraignment, Judge Susan B. Handy set his bond at $1 million and appointed attorney Peter E. Scillieri from the public defender’s office to represent Armadore. The judge ordered Armadore to have no contact with Tyus or with Thomas’ family and continued the case to Nov. 27.

Tyus, who is scheduled to appear before Judge Handy this morning, is serving a three-year sentence for carrying or sale of a dangerous weapon.

The arrests mark the first for the New London police working in conjunction with the cold case unit, according to New London Deputy Chief Peter Reichard.

New London detectives had continuously investigated the case and had kept in regular contact with Thomas’ family. Curcuro was assigned to the cold case unit in October 2011 to investigate further.

The investigators obtained the warrants in a relatively unusual manner for Connecticut courts. Judge Arthur C. Hadden had served as a one-man grand jury, listening to evidence and testimony in the case before signing the warrants.

Typically, the police prepare an arrest warrant and present it to a prosecutor, who evaluates it and signs it before it is presented to a judge for signature.

k.florin@theday.com

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