Seven years after John and Joyce Sheridan were found stabbed to death in their New Jersey home, one of their sons has asked prosecutors to investigate his parents’ deaths in light of a murder plot to “strangely similar” third party account revealed this week to the federal government. Newark Court.
In a letter to county and state prosecutors on Friday, Mark Sheridan urged them to compare a seized knife to a suspected North Jersey conspiracy participant to see if it matches the one missing from his parents’ home in the highly publicized and confusing case.
John Sheridan Jr., chief executive of Camden’s Cooper University Health System, and his wife were found fatally stabbed in their home, which had been set on fire. Authorities initially concluded their deaths were a murder-suicide – a conclusion their four sons have strongly questioned.
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Mark Sheridan wrote that “your offices scoffed at my family’s suggestion that my parents’ death was anything other than a murder-suicide. Indeed, both bureaus openly scoffed at the idea of a murder-for-hire involving a stabbing with a fire set to destroy evidence.
He noted that earlier this week, a North Jersey political consultant and a Philadelphia man pleaded guilty to such a scheme, in which the victim was fatally stabbed and his apartment set on fire. The fatal attack took place in May 2014, four months before the Sheridans died. But the alleged culprits were only named this week with guilty pleas.
The guilty pleas were entered on Tuesday and Wednesday by Sean Caddle, 44, who served as a consultant for Democratic Party candidates, and Philadelphia Bomani Africa. In a hearing this week, federal authorities said Caddle hired a Connecticut conspirator, George Bratsenis, to kill a Caddle associate and that the conspirator recruited Africa to help him. They said Bratsenis and Africa went to the target’s residence in Jersey City and killed him and set his apartment on fire.
According to NJ.com, authorities have not charged Bratsenis. Prosecutors did not name the victim, but said the fatal stabbing took place on May 22, 2014. On that same date, however, 52-year-old Michael L. Galdieri, who also worked in politics and was the son of the late Democratic State Senator James. A. Galdieri, was fatally stabbed in an apartment which was later set on fire, according to news reports.
Africa, 61, and Bratsenis, 73, were both charged and pleaded guilty in a federal case stemming from a Connecticut bank robbery in September 2014. Prosecutors in the case alleged that a “knife long-bladed butcher’ had been found in the white van. which Bratsenis was driving at the time of his arrest on September 29, 2014, according to court records.
The Trumbull Times also reported that a long kitchen knife was found in the vehicle, in an article published shortly after Bratsenis’ arrest.
In his Friday letter, Mark Sheridan referenced media reports of the knife. He went on to say that the Somerset Attorney’s Office ‘questioned me and my brothers on several occasions about a knife that was missing from the knife block in the kitchen’ after his parents died.
The son sent the letter to Somerset County Attorney Michael Robertson and Andrew Bruck, acting New Jersey Attorney General. Sheridan noted that neither man was the primary prosecutor in his parents’ deaths. US Attorney Phillip Sellinger in Newark was also copied on the letter.
He asked New Jersey officials to contact federal prosecutors in Connecticut who are pursuing the criminal case against Bratsenis in the robbery to obtain “photos of the knife recovered at the time of his arrest to determine if it matches the full set of knives from my parents kitchen.
Sheridan also asked officials to obtain a DNA sample from the knife.
The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office and the state’s Attorney General’s Office did not comment on Sheridan’s letter. The Somerset County Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Bratsenis attorney in the Connecticut bank robbery case did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment and could not be reached by phone at his office. Court records show Bratsenis has been in jail awaiting sentencing for the theft.
Sheridan, 72, ran Cooper Hospital from 2008 until his death. A prominent Republican, he served as state transportation commissioner for GOP Governor Thomas H. Kean Sr. in the early 1980s and worked on transition teams for governors. Chris Christie and Christie Whitman. His wife, 69, was a retired teacher.
The Sheridans were found dead in the master bedroom of their home in Skillman, seven miles north of Princeton, on September 28, 2014. Each had been stabbed multiple times and suffered burns from an intentionally started fire in the room. John Sheridan also had five broken ribs and a chipped front tooth. Sheridan’s body was found under a burning two-piece dresser.
State authorities initially concluded in 2015 that John Sheridan stabbed his wife and then set fire to their bedroom.
Their four sons hired an independent medical examiner who disputed those findings, saying none of the knives found in their home had caused John Sheridan’s narrow wounds. Additionally, famed pathologist Michael Baden concluded that DNA found on a bloody knife in the bedroom matched that of a man, but not the genetic profiles of Sheridan or his sons. Baden wrote in an affidavit that John Sheridan’s other injuries were signs of an attack.
Baden, a former chief medical examiner for New York, concluded that the Sheridans were likely killed by an intruder who set the fire in an attempt to destroy evidence.
The Sheridan sons sued to have their father’s death certificate changed, and in 2017 the state medical examiner’s office changed his manner of death from suicide to undetermined. In his report, New Jersey Medical Examiner Andrew Falzon wrote that the weapon that caused Sheridan’s five stab wounds had not been found.
But authorities did not say at the time whether they planned to reopen the investigation, although many outside experts urged them to do so.