Suspect charged in 2011 murder of Norwich mother
Norwich — Lashawn R. Cecil, a convicted felon with a reputation for being reckless, was charged Wednesday with the Dec. 14, 2011, shooting death of Jaclyn Wirth and arraigned in Superior Court amid a heavy police presence.
City police, working with the New London County Cold Case Task Force, charged Cecil, 33, who was already in custody for a 2012 shooting, with murder, felony murder, criminal possession of a firearm and criminal attempt to commit first-degree burglary.
Police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. said additional arrests are expected. He said Cecil had been on the radar of investigators for some time but that his arrest represented “a monumental point in time for this investigation.”
Wirth, a 26-year-old mother of two, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds after the shooter fired at least nine shots through the front door of her apartment at 6D East Baltic St. in the Mohegan Common Apartments. Her son Sergio, then 7, called 911 and witnessed his mother’s final moments, according to police. Her younger son, Kymani, was asleep.
At the courthouse, Wednesday, Wirth’s aunt, Peggy Lufkin of Griswold, said it was a “happy-sad” day for the family. She is raising Wirth’s children with her husband, Ron, and said that Sergio, now 10, has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but that “this (arrest) will help him come along.”
“If it goes to trial, I’m going to be there every step of the way,” Lufkin said.
She said Cecil did not know Wirth but that Wirth’s boyfriend, Michael Boyce, who is the father of her youngest son, knew him briefly. Court documents detailing the case against Cecil have been sealed for at least two weeks.
“This was an extremely horrendous murder, done in the presence of her two children,” Fusaro said during an afternoon press conference at police headquarters. “It was taken pretty personally by the officers and detectives of this department.”
Patrolman Scott DuPointe, who was the first officer to respond to the scene, said that since that day, he knew police had to catch Wirth’s murderer.
“You can’t prepare for an incident like this,” said DuPointe. “The lady was wounded, and I was the last person to speak to her while she was (still) alive.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had authorized a $25,000 reward for information leading to a conviction, and the Wirth case was featured on a billboard and as the queen of diamonds on a pack of cold case playing cards distributed to inmates of state prisons.
“Rewards help, but what really solves cases is boots on the ground, talking to people,” Fusaro said.
Cecil, who was being held at the New Haven Correctional Center, has been in Department of Correction custody since city police charged him Dec. 23, 2014, in connection with a series of shootings on Shetucket Avenue. On Wednesday, he was taken to police headquarters, where he remained for several hours while he was served with the murder warrant and processed on the murder charges. He smiled at newspaper and television crews as he was led out in chains to be taken to court and told one reporter he is “not guilty.”
Presented before Superior Court Judge Timothy D. Bates, Cecil rocked back and forth and looked over his shoulder into the gallery, which was populated with uniformed and plainclothes police, Lufkin and her supporters, journalists and a few unidentified observers.
Citing the seriousness of the charges and the danger to witnesses in the case, Judge Bates set Cecil’s bond at $2 million. The judge transferred the case to the New London court where major crimes are heard and continued it to Feb. 11.
Cecil has narcotics, larceny and motor vehicle convictions dating back to 2006.
Prior to Wednesday’s arrest, his most recent charges involved a series of shootings on Shetucket Avenue during the summer of 2012, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. A cooperating witness who lived in the neighborhood at the time told police he saw Cecil, who is called “BI” on the street and is known in the neighborhood to be reckless, raise a handgun and fire a shot into a blue Infiniti after arguing over a girl with its driver. The police tracked down the driver of the Infiniti, a 33-year-old man who told them that Cecil didn’t like him because he used to hang out with Cecil’s girlfriend and Cecil believed he was a member of a street gang that was trying to hang out in Cecil’s neighborhood.
The man told police he had had several disagreements with Cecil between 2011 and 2012 and that Cecil shot at him during more than one of the disputes. The man was particularly upset when Cecil shot at his Infiniti, he said, because his 15-year-old son was in the back seat at the time. The police tracked down the vehicle, which had since been sold, and processed it for evidence. The process revealed the bullet had traveled within 18 inches of the back seat of the car where the son of the intended target sat.
Cecil was charged in that incident with criminal possession of a revolver, illegal discharge of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor.
Staff writer Izaskun E. Larrañeta contributed to this story.