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By DAVID OWENS and CHRISTINE DEMPSEY, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
9:53 PM EDT, October 15, 2012
Nearly two years after Beverly Therrien and two friends were found brutally murdered in Therrien's Naomi Drive home, police have charged her son with the killings.
Brett D. Bednarz, 48, was arrested Monday, and the search warrants in the case file describe a gruesome, blood-spattered crime scene — as well as a long period of conflict among Therrien, her son and her daughter, Candace Bednarz.
Bednarz could be eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted.
Therrien and two friends, Michael Ramsey, 53, and Pamela Johns, 60, were found dead at 154 Naomi Drive hon Thanksgiving 2010 when police went there after a relative couldn't reach Therrien.
Once inside, officers found blood spattered from floor to ceiling and the three bodies with massive head wounds. At the time, police said the crime scene showed evidence of "extreme violence and trauma." It took investigators a week to gather what they described as a "high volume of physical evidence."
Bednarz faces three counts of murder and one count each of first-degree burglary, home invasion and criminal violation of a protective order. He was also charged with capital felony, the state's death penalty statute, which could apply because the crime occurred before Connecticut abolished the death penalty.
Bednarz was held with bail set at $3 million and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Superior Court in Manchester.
The warrant for Bednarz's arrest was not available Monday but is expected to be released after his arraignment. One law enforcement official described the state's case as based largely on circumstantial evidence.
The day the bodies were found, police went to Manchester to talk to Bednarz and his sister. Brett Bednarz refused to answer questions about the killings without his lawyer present. Police said Candace Bednarz has not cooperated with their investigation. Contacted at her home Monday, she declined to comment.
"It's a good circumstantial case," the official said. East Hartford detectives "looked at the facts they had and they worked them. It was good old-fashioned police work."
Nine search warrant affidavits on file at Superior Court in Manchester describe the horrific crime scene and some of that circumstantial evidence. More detail is likely to be revealed in the arrest warrant affidavit.
When they entered the home on Nov. 25, 2010, police found the three bodies.
"Tremendous volumes of blood splatter could be immediately seen on walls, ceilings, floors and carpets in the central hallway" of 154 Naomi Drive, according to the warrant. "All three victims had been repeatedly beaten with a blunt object multiple times causing the skulls to fracture." All three had been dead about two days, police said.
The house has also been ransacked, apparently in a search for documents, money and valuables, police suspect.
Police found bloody sock prints in the kitchen that an analysis by the state crime lab showed were consistent with Bednarz's size 13 feet. Additional sock-print evidence was sent to a forensic examiner in Arizona who specializes in footprints.
Police did not find what they considered to be the murder weapon. Investigators and medical examiners, according to the search warrants, suspect a hatchet or hammer was used. One medical examiner thought a drywall hammer may have been the murder weapon.
A relative told police that Brett Bednarz was "an accomplished carpenter, especially with drywall."
Police obtained evidence that Beverly Therrien changed the beneficiary of a life insurance policy from Bednarz to a niece and nephew the day before she was found dead.
They also learned that she had an appointment with a lawyer scheduled for Dec. 1, 2010, to change the beneficiaries of her will from Bednarz to other relatives. No will was ever recovered, and probate records in East Hartford indicate Therrien died without a will.
In the apartment Bednarz shared with his sister at 114 Rachel Road in Manchester, police found more evidence, including:
•$5,000 in cash. Police determined Therrien had withdrawn $5,000 from Webster Bank three days before her body was found.
•Blood on a trash container near the apartment.
•Clothing, including two pairs of black pants with stains on them that was sent to the state crime lab for analysis.
•Some of Therrien's financial and other records.
Keeping records of all the evidence taken from the house and analyzing it took a long time, a police spokesman said Monday.
"That scene was very gruesome, so we had to gather a lot of evidence and submit it to different sources and wait for that evidence to come back," said Lt. Ricardo Soto.
"We have to document everything. It takes a long time to do that. Once we were able to do that and get the arrest warrant signed, then we made the arrest," he said.
The evidence had to be analyzed, he said, "and also in the meantime we were still doing the interviews. … A lot of man hours went into this case."
Therrien had called police to file complaints about Bednarz and his sister seven times in the nine months before her death, records show. The siblings called police on their mother, too.
In October 2009, Brett Bednarz was sentenced to a year of probation for a breach of peace charge stemming from an attack during which he placed a broomstick on his mother's abdomen and pushed down, according to court records.
In a tearful statement to the court, Therrien told the judge she loved her son, although she didn't want him to come near her again. He repeatedly beat her, she said.
Bednarz was ordered to get rid of his weapons — a .22-caliber rifle, two BB guns and a blowgun. The judge also put in place a no-contact order that would remain in effect for 20 years.
A charge of third-degree assault didn't stick because Therrien didn't want her son to go to jail, a prosecutor later said.
Bednarz did end up in jail for almost five months in 2011 after police found some marijuana during a search of the Manchester apartment where he was living.
He was sentenced to six months in prison on Jan. 26, 2011, according to court documents. He also was charged with violation of probation because of a 2009 sexual assault conviction.
Bednarz served until June 10, 2011, when he was discharged, said Andrius Banevicius, a state Department of Correction spokesman.
One of the last people to talk to Therrien was longtime friend Aline Doria. She said learning of the arrest from an East Hartford detective felt "like a weight was lifted off my shoulders."
Police continue to investigate the case and ask that anyone with information contact them at 860-528-4401.
— Staff writer Melissa Traynor contributed to this story.
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