Four hours of mayhem, three dead in Griswold

The mayhem that took place at the Lindquist home in Griswold just before Christmas 2017 lasted about four hours, left three family members dead and prompted a massive and prolonged response from local, state and federal law agencies.

A recently unsealed arrest warrant affidavit in the case of Ruth Correa, 23, of Hartford, provides the crime' grisly details: Murder, robbery, home invasion and arson, allegedly carried out between 12:46 and 5 a.m. on Dec. 20 by Correa and her 26-year-old brother, Sergio Correa.

Matthew Lindquist, 21, and his parents, 61-year-old Janet Lindquist and 56-year-old Kenneth Lindquist, died that morning. The family's 4-year-old golden retriever, Skylar, also perished, according to an obituary.

Sergio Correa and Matthew Lindquist had been planning the burglary that state police say precipitated the violent events at 70 Kenwood Drive for at least a day. They exchanged more than 40 text messages between 9 a.m. and midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 19, according to the affidavit. Lindquist wanted drugs from Correa and was willing to help him steal guns from his parents to get them.

"What he did was he introduced the devil into his house that night," state Rep. Kevin Skulczyck, R-Griswold, a former first selectman and current business owner in town, said during a news conference this past week at Griswold Town Hall. 

Matthew Lindquist's half-sister, Danielle T. Nichols, told detectives that Lindquist had gone to a rehabilitation program for narcotics around Halloween of 2017. It is unclear if that's when Lindquist met Correa, who only recently had been released from prison following a 10-year sentence for violent crimes he committed as a 16-year-old.

Lindquist's brother, Eric Lindquist, told the investigators he had spoken to his father the night before the crimes and learned the parents "were having problems with Matthew abusing illegal and prescribed narcotics again." Matthew Lindquist referred to "super fire" and "white fire" in the text messages he exchanged with Correa and also was expecting to receive cash for the guns, according to the affidavit.

"If u pull up street from my house and give me a stack I'll show u right where safe is," he texted to Sergio Correa at 7:28 p.m. on Dec. 19. Ensuing texts indicate Correa took longer to arrive than anticipated and that Lindquist was feeling "sick as hell" by 11:20 p.m. Correa's last text to Lindquist, sent at 12:46 a.m., indicates things were not going as planned.

"You made me come here for nothing," the text says.

House burned down 

The crimes took place five days before Christmas in an upscale neighborhood where residents concoct elaborate holiday lighting displays that draw viewers from throughout the town. The neighborhood would have quieted down after midnight, when Sergio and Ruth Correa arrived in Sergio's 2003 white Mitsubishi Galant with some of the tools they allegedly would use to kill the family members.

Ruth Correa told detectives that Sergio Correa attacked Matthew Lindquist with a machete he had in his car, attempted to bind and gag him with zip ties and duct tape, and that the siblings both stabbed Lindquist multiple times with a knife before leaving him in a wooded area. She said she armed herself with a golf club from the car going into the Lindquist home, having been told about the dog by Matthew Lindquist. She said she wasn't sure whether the wooden bat that Sergio used to attack Kenneth and Janet Lindquist came from the car, too.

According to Ruth Correa, she and Sergio entered the home through the basement, found the safe locked and went upstairs. She said "the dad," Kenneth Lindquist, woke up and went after her brother, and Sergio started beating him with the bat. She said the dog came after her and she hit it with the golf club. She said Janet Lindquist came out of a room and she took her into a room, asked for the keys to the safe and told her, "the reason why this was happening was because her son had set her up."

Sergio Correa, having obtained the keys to the safe, got a gun and pointed it at Janet Lindquist and taunted her, the sister said. He tied a rope around her neck and choked her, and when Janet Lindquist went to grab her phone, he hit her in the back of the head four or five times with a bat. The siblings made several trips to the car with items stolen from the home.  

Ruth Correa said she and her brother set the house on fire by pouring a "thick liquid" she found in the basement on the floors. She said her brother, whom she said loved to carry knives and burn things, lit an exercise ball on fire to start the blaze. She thought it was about 4 a.m. when they left with Matthew Lindquist's car with stolen guns and other items. She said it was dark but she heard birds chirping.

A neighbor reported the fire at the Lindquist home at 5:12 a.m., prompting a response that began with state police from the Montville barracks and members of the Griswold Fire Department but quickly involved other fire departments due to the intensity of the fire.

The investigation that began at 5:12 a.m. on Dec. 20 eventually would involve two additional crime scenes. Within an hour, at 5:56 a.m., Glastonbury police would become involved when called to an apartment complex there for a burning car that turned out to be Matthew Lindquist's gray Saturn. And on May 5, 2018, Matthew Lindquist's remains were recovered in a wooded area near the family home.

The Griswold investigation extended in the hours, days and months that followed to include the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, state police Fire and Explosion Unit, New London state's attorney's office, FBI Cellular Analysis Survey Team, the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the state forensic laboratory.

The lead investigators are the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, a unit of six detectives with advanced and specialized training that is based in Tolland and travels to the scenes of homicides and other major crimes in 45 towns in eastern Connecticut. 

Cellphone records key 

The first 48 hours is a crucial time for investigators, said Sgt. Forrest Ruddy, supervisor of the squad, adding that it takes "more than what they do on TV" to properly investigate a crime.

"From start to finish, it's hundreds of man hours," Ruddy said.

In a phone interview Thursday, Ruddy said he couldn't talk specifically about open cases, but described the procedures his squad follows. They work out of a van that serves as a mobile office and usually have to wait for a search warrant before entering a crime scene and documenting it with videotape, digital photos and sketch maps and seizing and packaging evidence.

The detectives conduct interviews and follow leads as they attempt to piece together what happened.

Cellphone records have become a key part of crime investigations and, in the Lindquist case, the state police "pinged" the cellphones of the Lindquists in the hours after the fire and later obtained, via court order, records that detailed the text messages Matthew Lindquist exchanged with Sergio Correa in the hours before the crimes.

The case would come together quickly after a dog walker found Matthew Lindquist's remains about 1,500 feet from the family home on May 5. Ruth Correa provided a lengthy confession during a May 11 interview, enabling detectives to tie together the details in a 17-page arrest warrant affidavit. She was charged a day later, and Sergio Correa was charged on June 4.

The case is in the court system, where it could be years before the defendants resolve it through a plea deal or trial.

k.florin@theday.com

Timeline of Griswold home invasion-triple murder

The home-invasion murder of three members of the Lindquist family and associated crimes took place over the course of more than four hours on Dec. 20, 2017. This timeline is based on information contained in an arrest warrant affidavit for Ruth Correa. Ruth and Sergio Correa have been charged in connection with three murders in Griswold last year. Ruth Correa has pleaded not guilty. Sergio Correa has not yet entered a plea.

DEC. 19, 2017

Sergio Correa and Matthew Lindquist exchange more than 40 text messages in which Correa agrees to bring Lindquist drugs and cash in exchange for Lindquist letting him into his parents' home and showing Correa a safe Lindquist says contains at least two guns and is bolted to the floor in the basement.

11:40 p.m.: Correa texts Lindquist that he is 35 minutes away. His sister, Ruth Correa, is with him in the car.

DEC. 20, 2017

12:46: Correa and Lindquist exchange their last text message.

12:46 a.m. to 5 a.m.

- Sergio and Ruth Correa meet Matthew Lindquist at the cul-de-sac on Kenwood Drive, Griswold.

- Sergio and Ruth Correa allegedly fatally stab Matthew Lindquist and leave his body in a wooded area.

- Sergio and Ruth Correa go to the Lindquist home.

- Kenneth Lindquist wakes up and allegedly is attacked by Sergio Correa, who demands the key to the gun safe.

- Ruth Correa strikes the family dog with a golf club after she says it attacked her.

- Janet Lindquist wakes up and is attacked by Sergio Correa.

- Sergio and Ruth Correa set fire to the house and leave with stolen items, including Matthew Lindquist's car.

5:12 a.m.: Neighbor calls 911 to report a fire at the Lindquist home at 70 Kenwood Drive. First responders arrive to find fire consuming the home and can only fight the flames from the outside. Neighbor calls Eric Lindquist, son of the homeowners, to tell him about the blaze.

5:30 a.m.: With none of the home's three occupants accounted for, fire marshal calls in state police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit to help determine the cause and origin of the fire.

5:43 a.m. Surveillance camera photo from Bank of America branch shows a silver Saturn, later confirmed to be Matthew Lindquist's, turn off New London Turnpike on to Clinton Street at 5:43 a.m., followed seconds later by Sergio Correa's white Mitsubishi Galant.

5:47 a.m. Surveillance camera photo from Bank America shows flames in the distance.

5:56 a.m. Glastonbury police and fire crews called to a car fire at 40 Nanel Drive within the Glastonbury Luxury Apartment complex. Fire and Explosion Unit called to investigate. Investigators determine Matthew Lindquist's cellphone "pings" in the area as state police try to locate him.

7:05 a.m. Body is discovered inside 70 Kenwood Drive during a preliminary search of the home. In the driveway, police find a single brass round from a 30-06 rifle.

7:11 a.m. Eric Lindquist tells troopers at the fire scene that his father, Kenneth, told him the previous evening that he and his wife were having problems with Matthew Lindquist abusing illegal and prescribed drugs again. Sister Danielle T. Nichols tells detectives that she last communicated with Matthew via Facebook on Halloween and he said he was in a rehabilitation center in Hartford for narcotics.

7:40 a.m. Matthew Lindquist's cellphone "pings" in the area of the Sands Apartment Complex in Hartford and the location remains unchanged for the next 24 hours. Cellphones belonging to Kenneth and Janet Lindquist last ping about 6 a.m. in the same area.

11:30 a.m. Accelerant detection K-9 Claus alerts on a red plastic gas container in front of the Lindquist home's detached garage.

2 p.m. State police search the Lindquist home and find a second body within the debris. They find an empty gun safe standing upright with the door open with the locking mechanism missing. Family members say the safe contained firearms and ammunition including a 30-06 caliber hunting rifle.

DEC. 21, 2017

- Medical examiners use dental records to identify the bodies of Kenneth Lindquist, 56, and Janet Lindquist, 61.

- Dr. Angela McGuire performs autopsy on Mrs. Lindquist and rules the cause of death is "homicidal violence including blunt impact injuries of the head and smoke inhalation with thermal injuries." The manner of death is ruled a homicide.

- Dr. Dollett T. White performs autopsy on Mr. Lindquist and rules he died of "homicidal violence including skull fractures, epidural, subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage; and cerebral contusion." The manner of death is ruled a homicide.

DEC. 22, 2017

- State police search Matthew Lindquist's burnt car and seize three exploded 30-06 shell casings and keys matching the Ford and Hyundai vehicles burned in the fire on Kenwood Drive.

- State police use emergency disclosure process and learn that Lindquist was communicating with Sergio Correa. They obtain background information on Correa.

Dec. 28, 2017

- Probation officers search Sergio Correa's bedroom at his grandfather's home at 61 Donald St. in Hartford. No contraband is found.

- Sergio Correa submits to questioning at Hartford Police command center but does not provide information about Matthew Lindquist, who is considered a person of interest in the Griswold crimes. Correa says he wants a lawyer. Police seize his cell phone.

- Probation officers search Sergio Correa's car and find a gas can, multiple knives, wound cleaner spray, a sledge hammer, computer monitor and tools. State police seize the car and take it to Troop E in Montville.

Jan. 5, 2018

- Security officer from Ruth Correa's apartment building tells detectives Ruth Correa approached him in the hallway and told him she and her brother "Gio" had killed Matthew, Janet and Kenneth Lindquist, torched their house and stolen Matthew Lindquist's car. She said she was covered in blood after the crimes and that the interior of her brother's car had since been "renewed."

Jan. 6, 2018

- Detectives going over Correa's car notice screws have been replaced, the front seats are not bolted to the floor properly, the interior trim doesn't match. They trace writing underneath the driver's seat to a junkyard in New Hampshire. Eric Lindquist identifies the computer monitor and pry bar as items belonging to his father.

Jan. 7, 2018

- State police still have not found Matthew Lindquist or his body, and there has been no activity on his cellphone. They search the Lindquist residence, woods and surrounding properties using K-9s.

Jan. 24, 2018

- Eric Lindquist notifies state police he was able to log in to his mother's Microsoft account and viewed the last location of her missing Dell laptop computer. The program indicates the computer was last located near the intersection of Florence and Main streets in Hartford at 10:55 a.m.

Feb. 21, 2018

- Sergio Correa is arrested on drug possession and probation violation charges.

May 5, 2018

- Dog walker calls 911 to report finding human remains approximately 50 feet into the woods and 1,500 feet from the Lindquist residence. Police assume it is Matthew Lindquist.

May 6, 2018

- Medical examiner's office conducts autopsy and rules that the cause of death is stab wounds to the head, torso and extremities. The manner of death is ruled a homicide.

May 9, 2018

- Medical examiner uses dental records to identify the victim as Matthew Lindquist.

May 10, 2018

- Detectives obtain a search-and-seizure warrant for Ruth Correa's apartment at 1630 Main St. in the Sands Apartment Complex in Hartford.

May 11, 2018

- Detectives obtain warrant to collect DNA sample from Ruth Correa. She agrees to speak with police and provides detailed confession of the crimes.

- Detective Frank A. Cuoco prepares 17-page arrest warrant affidavit for Ruth Correa.

May 12, 2018

- Ruth Correa is arrested after the warrant is presented to and signed by State's Attorney Michael L. Regan and Superior Court Judge Kevin P. McMahon.

May 14, 2018

- Ruth Correa is arraigned on charges of murder with special circumstances, three counts of felony murder, home invasion, first-degree arson and first-degree robbery.

June 4, 2018

- Sergio Correa is charged with murder with special circumstances, three counts of felony murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson and second-degree arson and home invasion.

June 6, 2018

- During her second court appearance, Ruth Correa waives her right to a probable cause hearing and enters a not-guilty plea.

ARREST WARRANT
Ruth Correa Arrest Warrant Application (PDF)

Text message exchange between Matthew Lindquist and Sergio Correa


Sergio Correa and Matthew Lindquist exchange more than 40 text messages in which Correa agrees to bring Lindquist drugs and cash in exchange for letting him into his parents' home and showing him a safe he says contains at least two guns and is bolted to the floor in the basement. Scroll through to read the text messages. Warning: profanity is used. (Scroll through to see the text exchange)


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