Medical examiner: 'Homicidal violence,' stabbings to blame in Griswold deaths

Ruth Correa appears before judge Hillary B. Strackbein in New London Superior Court Part A on Monday, May 14, 2018 on murder, arson, home invasion and first-degree robbery charges. Correa is charged in connection with the December 2017 fire in Griswold that killed Janet and Kenneth Lindquist. The Lindquist's son Matthew Lindquist was found dead in nearby woods last week. (Pool photo, Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Ruth Correa appears before judge Hillary B. Strackbein in New London Superior Court Part A on Monday, May 14, 2018 on murder, arson, home invasion and first-degree robbery charges. Correa is charged in connection with the December 2017 fire in Griswold that killed Janet and Kenneth Lindquist. The Lindquist's son Matthew Lindquist was found dead in nearby woods last week. (Pool photo, Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

New London — A 23-year-old woman accused of brutally murdering three members of a Griswold family remains in custody on a $2.5 million bond and is next due in court June 6.

Arraigned Monday in the Huntington Street courthouse where major crimes are tried, Hartford resident Ruth Correa faces three counts of murder, murder of two or more people at the same time, first-degree arson and first-degree robbery.

Police on Saturday arrested Correa on a warrant, accusing her of setting a Dec. 20, 2017, fire at 70 Kenwood Road in Griswold, which is part of Kenwood Estates.

After the flames died down, officials found homeowners Janet Lindquist, 61, and Kenneth Lindquist, 56, dead inside. The two were married.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Monday said Janet Lindquist died by "homicidal violence including blunt impact injuries of head and smoke inhalation with thermal injuries." The latter indicates she was alive when the fire started.

The medical examiner said a combination of skull fractures, hemorrhaging and cerebral bruising led to Kenneth Lindquist's death.

In the warrant, police also connected Correa to the death of the Lindquists' son, 21-year-old Matthew Lindquist, whose remains were found May 5 in the woods near Kenwood Road. The younger Lindquist, who initially was a person of interest in the fatal fire, graduated from the heating, air conditioning and ventilation program at Norwich Tech in 2015.

The medical examiner said he died of stab wounds to the head, torso and extremities.

The warrant for Correa's arrest remained sealed Monday and will be until at least May 29. It's not clear how or if she's connected to the Lindquists.

Friends and family of Correa packed the courtroom during her short arraignment. As Correa was escorted in, some of them gasped, stood up and blew kisses Correa’s way, with Correa returning the gesture. Court marshals quickly instructed the family members to sit back down.

Attorney Kevin Barrs, chief public defender in the New London Judicial District, stood next to Correa Monday, but going forward public defender M. Fred DiCaprio will represent her.

In arguing for her bail to remain at $2.5 million, a bail commissioner acknowledged that Correa does not have a criminal record but emphasized the severity of the charges she's facing.

Outside the courtroom, one family member at first walked toward members of the media, saying, “Somebody’s got to tell them she’s not a bad girl … she was a straight-A student.”

An employee with the public defender’s office then ushered the woman away, saying the family had no comment at this time.

Police said they expect to make more arrests in the case.

Seeking closure

On Monday afternoon, Griswold First Selectman Todd Babbitt said the arraignment was another step toward closure for a town that saw two alarming incidents in the span of one week last December.

Before the fatal fire, he explained, there was the Dec. 16, 2017, discovery of a snowmobile without a driver in Pachaug Pond. It wasn’t until February that first responders recovered Griswold resident John Dubois’ body from the pond.

With the two events happening in such quick succession, Babbitt said, the largely rural town was on edge, wondering where Dubois was while also questioning whether the Lindquists’ son might be to blame for their deaths.

“From what I see in town, from what I hear in town, people are a little more at ease now but they’re still anxious to find out what happened,” he said, referring to the Lindquist case.

Babbitt said he tells concerned residents how hard state police and local entities have been working to resolve the case. Members of the town’s Public Works department, for example, helped police dig through the Lindquists’ former house several times in their search for evidence. The charred remains of the home have since been removed.

“As late as last week, we emptied the contents of catch basins so (police) could look through the material,” Babbitt said. "They're not just forgetting about us.”

The 49-year-old first selectman said he didn’t know Kenneth, Janet or Matthew Lindquist, but he did know Kenneth’s parents. Their surviving son, Eric, still lives in a home on Pachaug Pond.

“They’ve been here their whole life,” he said of the extended Lindquist family.

Characteristically, the Kenwood Estates complex was pristine and quiet Monday afternoon.

Standing on her porch at 50 Kenwood Road, Harriet Bromley gave a nod to her cliché as she uttered it.

“Everybody says this kind of thing about their community, but this doesn’t happen here,” Bromley said, adding that she hopes Correa’s arrest brings some closure for friends and relatives of the Lindquists.

While Bromley knew little of the Lindquists, she said they always would wave when she walked by their home.

Bromley, who lives three doors down from 70 Kenwood Road, was home when the fire broke out around 5 a.m. Dec. 20 — she called 911.

“When I called they said it had already been reported,” she recalled. “But I thought the trees were on fire. It was before Christmas, you know, and in the back this gentleman had all kinds of Christmas lights.”

“I thought maybe there was a short in the lights,” she continued. “That’s how high the flames were. I didn’t even suspect that it was a house.”

l.boyle@theday.com

Ruth Correa blows a kiss to her family in the gallery as she appears before judge Hillary B. Strackbein in New London Superior Court Part A Monday, May 14, 2018 on murder, arson, home invasion and first-degree robbery charges. Correa is charged in connection with the December 2017 fire in Griswold that killed Janet and Kenneth Lindquist. The Lindquist's son Matthew Lindquist was found dead in nearby woods last week. (Pool photo, Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Ruth Correa blows a kiss to her family in the gallery as she appears before judge Hillary B. Strackbein in New London Superior Court Part A Monday, May 14, 2018 on murder, arson, home invasion and first-degree robbery charges. Correa is charged in connection with the December 2017 fire in Griswold that killed Janet and Kenneth Lindquist. The Lindquist's son Matthew Lindquist was found dead in nearby woods last week. (Pool photo, Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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