Warrant: Suspect ‘never slowed down’
Driver accused of hitting woman continued with his food delivery
MIDDLETOWN >> The Haddam man charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a wellknown 61-year-old woman last March outside her Chamberlain Road home never slowed down and continued on to deliver Chinese food to a customer two-tenths of a mile away, according to a warrant.
Charles Leroy Demoranville, 47, of Saybrook Road, Haddam, turned himself in to police Tuesday morning on a warrant for his arrest stemming from the March 31, 2016, incident. He is charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and evading responsibility.
The victim, Barbara “Bobbi” Eddinger, the owner of Buds & Blossoms greenhouses and coowner of Stone Post Gardens, was killed while placing a letter in her mailbox. She was taken to Middlesex Hospital, where she later died from her injuries, police said.
A witness standing about six feet away from the collision called police that day at 2:17 p.m. to say the driver of a dark-colored SUV “who was not paying attention” swerved across the road, jumped the curb, hit Eddinger and left the scene, according to the warrant.
“The operator never slowed down after he hit the victim,” the police report reads.
Investigators, who did not find any auto parts at the scene of the accident, said they tagged “small, thin (what appeared to be) black plastic pieces” as ev-
Police said the witness described the suspect as a white man with dark hair and/or wearing a hat. The next day, officers canvassed the neighborhood and schools, including nearby Xavier High School, and checked all student cars and the city’s car tax records for vehicles matching the description but none were found, according to the warrant.
On April 2, police examined video cameras from a home on Oakcliff Drive, searching for a similar vehicle that might have passed by but none was found, documents show.
Detectives who spoke to the owner of the Chinese food restaurant, looking for her delivery person, were sent to Demoranville’s home, where they found a black 1996 Jeep Cherokee, the report said. Demoranville allegedly told them he had made a delivery on March 31 at around 2:20 p.m. to a home on Elizabeth Lane.
On Tuesday, Fortune Garden owner Annie Yang told the Press that Demoranville no longer works at the 340 E. Main St. restaurant.
“I don’t think he did do that because that day he was working for me, and at that time, he was out on George Street. I don’t think anything happened,” Yang said, indicating the distance between George Street, which runs between Route 66/Washington Street and Boston Road, and Chamberlain Road, which is 6.6 miles southeast, near the Haddam line.
A person at Demoranville’s home told police Demoranville had been delivering food in a 1998 Buick Skylark that day and that he had accompanied him on that drop-off, the report said.
Demoranville allegedly told authorities that after making that delivery, his Jeep’s “transmission line popped off,” so he went to Advanced Auto Parts to get parts to repair the vehicle. Once the Jeep was fixed, the suspect told officers, he made a delivery to George Street in a borrowed car, then used his repaired Jeep for the remainder of the evening’s deliveries.
Demoranville denied he was involved in the fatal collision, the warrant said.
Investigators obtained video footage from the George Street apartment where Demoranville was allegedly driving the Buick during a later delivery of food, and the footage showed the suspect driving the Jeep, according to police.
On April 5, authorities received a call from a man who said a Fortune Garden restaurant delivery driver, who fit the suspect’s description, had delivered items to an person’s home on Elizabeth Lane.
According to the warrant, the witness told police he had ordered Chinese food from Fortune Garden on March 31 at 12:25 p.m. and it hadn’t arrived by 1:45 p.m. He looked outside and saw Demoranville’s Jeep driving on Chamberlain Road, past his street, authorities said. Moments later, the Jeep turned right onto Elizabeth Lane, a person knocked loudly on the door and the witness answered.
The driver, whom the witness described as a “white male wearing a black baseball hat, short black hair and a moustache,” handed him the food, “ran down the front steps and sped off in his vehicle,” the warrant said. The witness said the driver was starting to sweat and he continued to watch him “because he was acting so strange.”
Another witness in the home at the time told officers that she heard banging on the door at 2:22 p.m., looked outside and saw the Jeep, which was parked sideways in the driveway, facing west, away from the house, and “she was not happy because the operator had to drive on the lawn to park that way.”
A mechanic who works for the city who looked at Demoranville’s Jeep later said it was in such “poor mechanical condition that it could have caused the vehicle to have severe drifting, and cause an operator to lose control and veer off the roadway,” according to the warrant.
The straight portion of Chamberlain Road curves right approaching the Eddinger home, the report detailed.
The medical examiner concluded that Eddinger’s death was due to “blunt trauma of the head, torso and extremities,” and that the manner of death was an accident, authorities said.
After the accused returned to Fortune Garden at 2:38 p.m. that day to pick up his next delivery for George Street, he is seen on the nearby Rent-A-Center video camera leaving the parking lot at 2:41 p.m., the warrant said.
Demoranville is being held in lieu of a $50,000 cash-only bond. His case was continued to May 16.
Charles Leroy Demoranville