The wife of UConn Medical School Professor Pierluigi Bigazzi wrote in a journal that she killed her husband with a hammer in self defense, an arrest warrant unsealed Friday reveals.
Bigazzi was found last month in the basement of the Burlington home he and Linda L. Kosuda-Bigazzi shared, wrapped in plastic trash bags and duct tape, according to the warrant unsealed in Superior Court in New Britain.
In notes state police detectives found during a search of the house at 70 Smith Lane, Kosuda-Bigazzi, 70, describes a brawl during which she struck her husband with a hammer after he came at her with the hammer following an argument over work she wanted him to do on their deck. State police found blood spatter on the kitchen floor, ceiling and cabinets.
Officials at UConn Health asked police to check on Bigazzi’s well-being after they hadn’t heard from him for months. UConn Health officers went to his Burlington home on Feb. 5, knocked at the door and heard activity in the house, but go not response.
They then contacted state and Burlington police, who also knocked at the door. Around the same time, attorney Brian Karpe called the Litchfield state police barracks and told them he got a call from Kosuda-Bigazzi telling him state police were at the house. Karpe told police that he was on his way and that they should not to enter the house or talk to Kosuda-Bigazzi.
When Karpe arrived, he spoke briefly with Kosuda-Bigazzi, then let police in. Burlington police Officer Kevin Mellon noted “insect activity” in the house and found the body in the basement.
“Based upon the levels of decomposition, it was apparent that the individual had been deceases for an extended period of time,” the warrant says.
The officers immediately left the house and sought search warrants. They returned near midnight with a warrant, and then again on Feb. 6 when their investigation of improper disposal of a body turned into a murder investigation.
Karpe told police that Kosuda-Bigazzi made statements indicating that she intended to harm herself and she was taken to Bristol Hospital for treatment the evening of Feb. 5, the warrant says.
The medical examiner determined that Bigazzi, 83, died of “multiple blunt force injuries to the skull” and that the manner of death was homicide.
As state police Western District Major Crime Squad detectives collected evidence at the house, they noted that Bigazzi’s remains were “encased in black plastic garbage bags secured with silver/gray duct tape.” The detectives also noted that there were bags of cleaning supplies, trash bags and duct tape, and that the someone had tried to clean up the blood stains in the kitchen, the warrant says.
State police checked with Bigazzi’s supervisor at UConn Health, who explained that she had tried to reach Bigazzi by email and phone on Feb. 5. UConn police told state police that Bigazzi also suffered from dementia, the warrant says.
Just when Bigazzi was killed is not clear. He was at a doctor’s appointment in Massachusetts on June 13, 2017, and his supervisor at UConn received an email from him on July 6. UConn continued to pay Bigazzi’s salary of about $200,000 last year despite losing contact with him for much of 2017. The school is conducting an internal investigation of their relationship with him.
Among the notes state troopers found in the house was a description of a physical fight between Kosuda-Bigazzi and her husband that began with a disagreement over home repairs, according to the wsarrant. The note is not dated.
State police wrote in the arrest warrant that the note appears to have been written by Kosuda-Bigazzi. In it, she describes an incident she calls “the day of the deck,” the warrant says.
“There was work to do on the backyard deck,” the note reads. “The nails were coming out + it had to be painted again. The hammer [only 1] was on the kitchen counter across from the stove.” The note describes Bigazzi as threatening and says he “for some reason over time will just come at people.” It describes an incident where he scared a man in Boston after an outburst over getting directions.
“The day of the deck I came downstairs + passed [Bigazzi] sitting on the couch in the family room. … I said the deck needs work — some nails are coming out + they need to be pounded back in.”
The note says Kosuda-Bigazzi walked into the kitchen, checked to make sure the burners were off and did not hear her husband walk in behind her.
“The day of the deck he picked up the hammer + said according to Roman law he could kill me,” the note reads. “I turned to him + saw the hammer move past my face. Then we were on the floor across from the stove. I do not know how we got there. I wanted to get the hammer away from him + did. Then he punched me in the left side of my head at least [two times] + almost knocked me out. With his other hand he tried to choke me. We fought over the hammer. We both had it at times. I got it back + said leave me alone. We were all over the place. He was very strong + I could not stop him. I hit him when I got hold of it again to slow him down. It seemed like [a number] of light hits + then they got more random + harder. We kept fighter over the hammer. He was very strong + mobile + got up off the floor. I saw him going toward the refrigerator with the hammer. So I tried to get up. When I looked up again I saw him by the dining room door coming back at me. Then we were on the floor again fighting over the hammer. The hammer was slippery. I got it back + told him to leave me alone for a second time + he said NO!”
The note describes the physical fight continuing.
“I hit him just swinging the hammer in any direction + then he was quiet — for a few seconds + then he stopped breathing. I just wanted to slow him down. I sat on the floor by the kitchen cabinets across from the stove — next to him for a long time. Then I had to try to get up — but could not.”
The note then describes Kosuda-Bigazzi getting up from the floor and having to move her husband off of her. Most of her clothing came off as did some of his, the note reads. “I remember [Bigazzi] saying at one point during this horrible incident — he said — this has to be cleaned up — so I did.”
The note is initialed LKB. The notes are dated July 2017 through October 2017. Police also found on the notes the names and contact information for several criminal attorneys and bail bond companies.
State police detectives asked the medical examiner if it was possible Bigazzi was killed in July, and the medical examiner said he did not think so, based upon the level of decomposition, the warrant says.
After the revelation that UConn continued to pay Bigazzi’s salary, UConn President Susan Herbst ordered UConn Provost’s Office and Human Resources Department to review the circumstances surrounding Bigazzi’s work arrangements.“The review will examine what the expectations of him were and what efforts were made to communicate with him,” Herbst said.
Bigazzi was a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UConn medical school, which is part of UConn Health in Farmington, according to the school’s directory. He had been on the faculty since 1975, according to state records.
A May 25 meeting that Bigazzi attended could have been the last time anyone at the school saw him. The last email his department head got from him was dated July 7, according to UConn Health spokeswoman Lauren Woods.
Bigazzi’s key card was used for the last time on Aug. 23, although UConn officials acknowledge there is no way to know if it was Bigazzi who used it.
Bigazzi last taught a class from Jan. 24 to Feb. 13, 2017. Last summer, he was assigned to update parts of the school of medicine’s curriculum and to create and update a variety of instructional materials, Woods said.
His annual review was to be scheduled for late February, Woods said, and he was expected to present the work he completed since summer to the head of the pathology department for review.
On Friday, New Britain Superior Court Judge John L. Cordani ordered the warrant for Kosuda-Bigazzi’s arrest unsealed after a brief hearing. The state and Kosuda-Bigazzi’s defense attorneys had asked for the warrants to remain sealed. On Friday, as the hearing began, prosecutor Christian Watson withdrew the state’s request for a continued sealing order. He said there was no further investigation of the case and that he could not in good faith request a continued sealing order.
Karpe, Kosuda-Bigazzi’s lawyer, asked the judge to continue the seal, arguing that it was necessary to protect Kosuda-Bigazzi’s right to a fair trial and to impanel an impartial jury. Kosuda-Bigazzi’s rights, he argued, outweighed the public’s right to know.
Matthew Kauffman, a reporter for The Courant, argued that the defense request did not meet the standards set forth in state law to limit public release of court information. There is a strong presumption that the courts be open, he said.
After a brief recess, Cordani denied the defense request to continue sealing the arrest warrant. The public and the press have a right to monitor court proceedings and to review court documents, he said. While the right to court documents is not absolute, the defense failed to meet the high standard required to keep the document sealed, the judge ruled..