MONTGOMERY: Sherdian family offering big reward

By Jenniefer Kohlhepp
MONTGOMERY — Mark Sheridan is taking a stand for his family by offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the deaths of his parents.
An attorney at Patton Boggs, he is also stepping down from his position as counsel for the Republican State Committee as he has taken aim at Geoffrey Soriano, the Somerset County Prosecutor.
In a letter to Prosecutor Soriano dated April 13, Mr. Sheridan details deficiencies and concerns his family has with the evidence and investigation into the cause and manner of death of his parents.
Mr. Sheridan, writing as the son of Joyce and John Sheridan and as counsel to his three brothers, disputes the prosecutor’s March 27 news release that concluded his father stabbed his mother to death, set their bedroom on fire and then killed himself.
The evidence presented by the prosecutor to reach this conclusion simply does not support that conclusion, according to the 11-page letter.
“We ask again that you address the specific issues…which were not addressed in the news release,” Mr. Sheridan wrote.
When contacted Tuesday about the letter, Capt. Jack Bennett, communications director for the prosecutor’s office, said, “No comment.”
The letter alleges that the prosecutor’s office decided that John and Joyce Sheridan died as a result of a murder-suicide “within minutes of arriving at their house” on Sept. 28, 2014.
“Your office committed to that conclusion when it assured the public only days after their deaths and with little to no investigation that there was no risk to the community,” Mr. Sheridan wrote. “When it was subsequently revealed that the investigation had failed to locate the weapon that killed our father your office refused to accept that it had made a mistake.”
The Sheridan family hired renowned pathologist Dr. Michael Baden who maintains that John Sheridan was stabbed with a knife that has not been recovered. Only after Dr. Baden’s autopsy did investigators acknowledge the existence of a third knife. According to the Sheridan sons, it was only after Dr. Baden’s autopsy that investigators looked at the crime scene again to search for the weapon used to stab their father.
“When facts were developed that called that hypothesis into question, they were ignored or worse, mischaracterized to justify the desired conclusion,” Mr. Sheridan wrote.
The letter also alleges that the prosecutor’s office convinced the medical examiner’s office to adopt the murder-suicide theory after six months, multiple meetings and in spite of the assistant medical examiner’s “initial reluctance.”
“The fact that it took no less than three attempts for your office to convince the medical examiner to conclude murder-suicide demonstrates that the proper conclusion has not been reached,” Mr. Sheridan wrote. “Your murder-suicide conclusion cannot withstand scrutiny.”
The letter also puts forth undisclosed facts surrounding the prosecutor’s investigation.
“We ask that your office explain why these facts, which call into question the murder-suicide conclusion, were not revealed as part of the news release,” Mr. Sheridan wrote.
Besides making a case for a missing knife, the letter states that no scratch wounds were found on John Sheridan during both autopsies and neither autopsy confirmed any blood transfer from Joyce to John Sheridan.
“Given that our mother fought for her life and in the process suffered defensive wounds to her hands, which resulted in significant amounts of blood on her hands, please explain the lack of scratch or other wounds to our father and the lack of blood transfer to his clothing,” Mr. Sheridan wrote.
The letter also picks apart the DNA evidence tied to the deaths of John and Joyce Sheridan.
“Specifically, the news release failed to advise the public that the DNA profile identified on the knife handle not only matches John Sheridan, but approximately 50 percent of the world’s male population,” Mr. Sheridan wrote. “In other words, the DNA profile found on the knife was also a likely match for half of the male investigators and first responders that were at our parents’ house on Sept. 28.”
According to the letter, the weapon that killed Joyce Sheridan was also found to have an indistinguishable mix male DNA on it.
“Please explain how this ‘indistinguishable mix’ of male DNA does not indicate a third party,” Mr. Sheridan asks. “Further please explain the failure to indicate that two of the four blood specimens from the blade of the knife used to kill our mother were unidentifiable and how none of the four blood samples from that knife blade matched our father’s DNA.”
Mr. Sheridan also takes issue with the prosecutor’s office investigation into his father’s behavior in the days before his death.
“You know that there were no health problems, no marital problems, no financial problems, no infidelity etc. etc. etc.,” Mr. Sheridan wrote. “You also know that hours before his death he had a perfectly normal FaceTime conversation with his son and disabled grandson yet you failed to mention this. You know that hours before his death he sent a multiple paragraph work email that was coherent, logical and exhibited the same type of professionalism he displayed throughout his career.”
Mr. Sheridan also said his father spent the day prior decorating for Halloween, food shopping, dropping off dry cleaning and shopping for new clothes.
“In addition, you know that your investigators conducted 180 interviews of family, friends and colleagues and could not identify any motive for him to kill himself let alone his wife of 47 years,” Mr. Sheridan wrote. “Thus, when you say that ‘you don’t know what else was going on in his life,’ what you really mean is that your ‘intensive investigation’ failed to provide a motive supporting your murder-suicide conclusion.”
The letter also calls into question whether Joyce Sheridan’s narcotics were missing or removed from the house by investigators.
“The autopsy report indicates that our mother who was recovering from back surgery and was undergoing pain management had a number of prescribed narcotics in her system,” Mr. Sheridan wrote. “Remarkably, there is no record of investigators determining whether those prescriptions were still in the house after their deaths.”
Mr. Sheridan also said investigators did not research why a three-foot wrought-iron fire poker was in the bedroom. The room does not have a fireplace and John Sheridan had five broken ribs, a chipped tooth and straight line bruising across his chest, according to the letter.
The letter also states that insurance investigators located missing jewelry in a backpack in a closet within the master suite just five feet away from where Joyce Sheridan died.
“Given the failure to locate a large bag of jewelry just feet away from one of the victims, should anyone be surprised that investigators were unable to find the murder weapon, fingerprints, trace blood evidence or any relevant DNA?” Mr. Sheridan wrote. 