Correa's girlfriend: He showed me guns, told me to stay away from his sister

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Sergio Correa's former girlfriend testified Thursday at his probable cause hearing in New London Superior Court that he showed her two long guns in the trunk of their car hours after the state says he killed three members of the Lindquist family and burned down their home in Griswold on Dec. 20, 2017.

Twenty-three-year-old Tanisha Vicento also said that Correa told her to stay away from his sister, Ruth, who had introduced her to Sergio and who also is implicated in the crimes.

"He told me to stay away from her because she is crazy, and, 'I did the dad (Kenneth Lindquist) and she (Ruth) did the mom (Janet Lindquist)," Vicento said.

Ruth Correa, who testified earlier this week, said Sergio had killed both parents.

Vicento said she didn't understand, but that she watched the news and learned, "There was a big fire and people died."

She was the state's final witness at a hearing at which authorities are attempting to convince Judge Arthur C. Hadden there is enough evidence to prosecute Correa for murder with special circumstances and other crimes that would keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

Hadden continued the hearing to Wednesday, Sept. 25, so that the attorneys can prepare arguments. He could issue a ruling from the bench that day or sometime later.

Vicento appeared terrified on the witness stand, hunching behind the judge's bench so that Correa could barely see her from the defense table. She cried and sniffled as prosecutor Stephen M. Carney led her through her direct testimony. She said at some point there was discussion of her entering a witness protection program and that she was concerned for her safety due to "both Ruth and Sergio."

Vicento said she met Ruth Correa at the home of a mutual friend during the summer of 2017. She said Ruth introduced her to her brother, Sergio, when they ran into him as they got off an elevator in a Hartford apartment complex, where Ruth and Sergio lived in separate buildings. She and Sergio started dating, and Vicento and her two children moved in with him and his grandfather.

She said Sergio had money, though he didn't work, and that somebody he once worked for had given him the white Mitsubishi Galant, which was registered in both their names. She said she kept a small metal bat under the passenger seat for protection and there was a machete in the space between the driver's seat and passenger seat. They also kept an empty gas can in the trunk, she said.

On the night of Dec. 19, she said Sergio went to bed with her and the kids at 8:30 p.m., wearing pajama pants and a T-shirt, and that he was gone when she woke up sometime later. She tried to call him, but he didn't answer and she went back to sleep. She saw him the next morning, dressed in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, as she was getting her daughter ready for school. After taking the child to school, she said Sergio was at the car. He showed her two long guns in the trunk, and she also saw a box of bullets, a blanket in a clear wrapper and a black bag.

She said she told Correa he needed to get rid of the guns because she had children, and he said he would. She saw Ruth Correa after that night with things she hadn't seen before, Vicento testified, including a necklace and ring, hair straightening device and purple laptop.

The state alleges Sergio Correa made a deal to provide drugs to 21-year-old Matthew Lindquist in exchange for access to the gun safe in the basement of his parents' home in the Kenwood Estates Subdivision. The Correas allegedly stabbed Matthew and left his body in a wooded area, then went to the Lindquist home, where they are accused of torturing and killing Matthew's parents, Janet and Kenneth Lindquist, and stealing many belongings before setting the house on fire.

One of the only items spared by the intense fire was Kenneth Lindquist's 1977 Ford F-150 pickup truck, which his surviving son, Eric, has been driving to court this week with an American flag flying from a hole in the side of the truck bed.

Vicento testified that the police had threatened her with the removal of her children by the Department of Children and Families and told her DCF was waiting to hear whether she would cooperate. Under questioning by defense attorney Jessica Luu-Missios, she said DCF workers showed up at her apartment three days after she gave a statement to police on May 11, 2018. She met with the police again, on May 15, and gave a more detailed statement.

"Do you know that changing your story that you gave on May 15 could potentially bring DCF back into your life?" Luu-Missios asked Vicento.

"Yes," she responded through her tears.

k.florin@theday.com

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