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Police: Courthouse slayer shot two before killing self

February 13, 2013

The man at the center of a courthouse shooting in Wilmington Feb. 11 entered the building and waited for his daughter-in-law before killing her, her friend and then himself, police say.

Thomas S. Matusiewicz, 68, of Edcouch, Texas, entered the New Castle County Courthouse on North King Street at 7:40 a.m. with his son David Matusiewicz, 45, also of Edcouch, who was scheduled to appear in court for a child custody matter involving his ex-wife Christine Belford, 39, of Newark, said Sgt. Paul Shavack of the Delaware State Police.

Matusiewicz remained in the lobby after his son proceeded through a guarded courthouse checkpoint and metal detector.  At about 8:15 a.m., Shavack said, Belford and her friend Laura Mulford, 47, of Newark entered the public lobby and were standing inside when Matusiewicz approached them with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun. He fired several rounds at close range at Belford and then turned the gun on Mulford, who tried to flee; both women suffered fatal wounds to their upper bodies, Shavack said.

Matusiewicz then turned toward two Delaware Capitol Police officers and fired several rounds at them. Both were hit in the chest, but their ballistic vests protected them, Shavack said.

During the gun battle, Matusiewicz was struck once in the upper body. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to the chief medical examiner autopsy report.

The total number of rounds fired is under investigation, Shavack said.

Delaware Capitol Police Officer Michael Manley, 42, and Officer Steven D. Rineheart, 50, were treated for minor injuries and released from Christiana Hospital Trauma Center.

David Matusiewicz was located at the courthouse and interviewed by detectives. During the course of the interview, it was determined that he was in violation of his federal probation, and he was held for a hearing, Shavack said.

In 2009, Matusiewicz was convicted of kidnapping after he and his mother, Lenore Matusiewicz, took his three daughters out of the country, eventually settling in Nicaragua. They said they were taking the children to Disney World; Belford did not see her children for 19 months, according to published accounts.

Lenore and David both served jail time in connection with the kidnapping; Lenore 18 months, and about three years in jail and a halfway house for David, said Jason Miller, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.

David was released from federal custody in September 2012, and his parental rights were terminated, Miller said.

Lenore also served her time. Attorney General Beau Biden issued a no-contact order Feb. 12 forbidding Lenore from having any contact with Belford's and Matusiewicz's children. "She must stay 1,000 feet away from her grandchildren at all times and can have no direct or indirect contact with them," Biden said in a press release.