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Looking Back At 2016: Fairfield County's Biggest Crime Stories Of The Year

Authorities found Robert E. Stackowitz, 70, in Sherman decades after he escaped from a Georgia prison after he applied for Social Security benefits.
Authorities found Robert E. Stackowitz, 70, in Sherman decades after he escaped from a Georgia prison after he applied for Social Security benefits. Photo Credit: Georgia Department of Corrections

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Fairfield County's criminals violated the law in ways both large and small in 2016.

A fugitive was caught after hiding out for nearly 50 years, a man was shot to death after attacking his family, and a voodoo priestess tried to curse the cops who pulled her over. Here are some of the biggest crime stories from the past year.

A cache of 21 handguns and rifles, marijuana plants worth “tens of thousands” of dollars, anabolic steroids, growth hormone and ammunition were seized from a Bridgeport home in what Mayor Joe Ganim called “one of the largest single arrest results anyone can remember.”

The town of Fairfield was stunned when a man was shot and killed by a police officer in a confrontation after a domestic violence incident at his home on Mountain Laurel Road in February. The man's 15-year-old son wrestled a baseball bat from his father’s hands in the attack as his injured 13-year-old sister ran from their house and called 911. His wife and a 12-year-old son were hospitalized with stabbing and blunt-force trauma injuries. It was determined later this year that the officer who fatally shot the father, Christopher Andrews, 51, was justified in his actions.

A Bethel neighborhood was shocked when two people were killed and one was injured in what Bethel police called a murder-suicide in a home. Police said that the man who fired the shots killed his 76-year-old brother-in-law and injured his sister before turning the gun on himself. He died days later at the hospital.

Alfonso Reid, 39, of Bridgeport, was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old student from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. His arrest led to a police bust of a Bridgeport bar where he had picked her up by pretending to be an Uber driver. In the raid, police ticketed over 70 underage drinkers from SHU. Two Bridgeport police found to be moonlighting at the club were suspended, and Bridgeport considered ordinances to improve safety.

Jason Adams, 46, a science teacher at Newtown Middle School, was arrested with a loaded gun inside the school, police said. He was placed on administrative leave and later resigned. He eventually received probation in the case after claiming he purchased the gun after receiving threats from Sandy Hook School shooting conspiracy theorists.

After 48 years on the run, a Georgia prison escapee was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Sherman this May. Bob Stackowitz had escaped from prison after serving two years of a 17-year robbery sentence and lived in plain sight for nearly 50 years. His case was eventually dismissed when it was revealed he suffered from a number of health issues and could not be extradited to Georgia. He died in early December after gaining his freedom.

State police seized 59 illegal firearms from the New Fairfield home of Michael K. Giannone, 44, who was charged with manufacturing and selling illegal assault rifles and handguns.

Police searched for a man who photo bombed a teenager's selfie and then inappropriately touched her at the Fourth of July fireworks at Jennings Beach in Fairfield. About a month later the man was identified as 54-year-old Harry Metz of Redding, who was arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. It was later reported that Metz had faced similar accusations in the past.

A Michigan tractor-trailer driver was accused of pushing a Bridgeport man out of the cab of his truck and running him over during a dispute over drug money. After the victim died, the driver was arrested at an airport in Maryland and extradited back to Connecticut, where he was charged with manslaughter.

A Greenwich voodoo priestess threatened to curse Stamford cops after they stopped her in a stolen car.

A 20-year-old Danbury man was charged with “viciously assaulting" a Danbury police officer after luring him out of his cruiser in a parking lot on Germantown Road in July. The chilling 911 calls were released to the public.

Thirteen people were wounded in an early morning ambush at a large Plymouth Street in Bridgeport house party in August, including one woman who was shot in the face. Police said that two shooters fired at the party through a hedge. Police said they would pursue every lead, but no suspects have been arrested in the incident.

Weston police responding to reports of a foul odor at a home on Newtown Turnpike in Weston found a menagerie of hundreds of exotic birds and snakes — both alive and dead. They called in animal experts to rescue the animals, many of which were in poor health. Police said the property owner had moved to his home after a problem at his New York State-based pet store. The owner was later charged with cruelty to animals.

Scary clown sightings across Fairfield County in October proved to be hoaxes, but they caused alarmed on campus at Fairfield University, at an elementary school in Stamford (where police blamed a child's imagination), and at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. State Police warned residents that clown pranks can be illegal if the intent is to cause panic. Police and other officials in Wilton and Westport said there was nothing to fear.

Three men were arrested in connection with the gruesome stabbing death of a 26-year-old man from Stamford who was killed during a late-night party in a luxury New York City apartment, police said. The body of Joseph Comunale, who was stabbed 15 times and set partially on fire, was found in a shallow grave in New Jersey. The suspects were not formally charged with murder, and have plead not guilty to all charges related to the case.

A 32-year-old man wanted in connection with the murder of his wife in their Stamford apartment was apprehended in New York City four days after the murder and after abandoning their daughter in the Port Authority Bus Terminal, police said. The 5-year-old girl led police Monday to the apartment, where her mother was found dead. Elmer Gomez Ruano was brought back to Bridgeport and formally charged with her murder.

A 57-year-old New Canaan father charged with manslaughter in the overdose death of his 25-year-old son exhibited "extreme recklessness" in sharing his own stash of heroin with his son, who was struggling to kick his drug habit, New Canaan Police said.

Brandon Dupee, a 33-year-old from Bridgeport, crashed a car off I-95 in Fairfield in December, killing himself and his sister, Lindsay, 31, of Stratford, police said. He had been arrested hours earlier on impaired driving charges in Norwalk. He had been spotted by a Maine police chief who was taking part in a Wreaths Across America convoy to deliver greens to place on veterans' graves. In 2011, Brandon Dupee had split a $1 million lottery jackpot win with a 90-year-old neighbor in Norwalk.

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