War­rant: Sus­pect ‘never slowed down’

Driver ac­cused of hit­ting woman con­tin­ued with his food de­liv­ery

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Press Staff

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-

idence.

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.

COUR­TESY MID­DLE­TOWN PO­LICE

Charles Leroy De­moranville

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