Three Members of Matusiewicz Family Convicted of Federal Stalking Crimes Resulting in the Murder of Christine Belford in Courthouse Shoot-out
WILMINGTON, DE—A federal jury has convicted David T. Matusiewicz, his mother, Lenore Matusiewicz, and his sister, Amy Gonzalez, of interstate stalking and cyberstalking, in violation of federal law. The jury also found all three defendants criminally responsible for the death of Christine Belford, who was murdered in the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse by co-conspirator Thomas Matusiewicz on February 11, 2013.
The defendants, who will be sentenced by United States District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh on October 15, 2015, face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Following the completion of any prison term, the defendants face a maximum of three years of supervised release.
The jury’s verdict on July 10, 2015 follows the August 2013 indictment charging David T. Matusiewicz, Lenore Matusiewicz, and Amy Gonzalez with one count of conspiring to commit interstate stalking and cyberstalking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 2261A(1)-(2); two counts of interstate stalking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2261A(1); and one count of cyberstalking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2261A(2). This appears to be the first federal conviction of any defendant for cyberstalking resulting in death, in violation of the Violence against Women Act.
According to the indictment and court documents filed in this case and in prior cases, David T. Matusiewicz and Christine Belford were engaged in divorce and child custody proceedings in the Family Court of Delaware in 2007. In August 2007, David T. Matusiewicz and his mother, Lenore Matusiewicz, kidnapped the three young children born of his marriage to Christine Belford and fled to South America. In March 2009, David and Lenore Matusiewicz and the young children were found living in a motor home in Nicaragua. David and Lenore Matusiewicz were arrested and prosecuted in Delaware, and the children were returned to the care of their mother, Christine Belford.
In September 2009, David and Lenore Matusiewicz both pled guilty to crimes relating to their kidnapping of the children. In December 2009, David T. Matusiewicz was sentenced to 48 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervision by the United States Probation Office.
In the days following his December 2009 sentencing, David T. Matusiewicz and Lenore Matusiewicz began to orchestrate, from their prison cells, a course of conduct designed to stalk, harass, and intimidate Christine Belford and her children. They enlisted Thomas Matusiewicz, Amy Gonzalez and various other persons in this effort, which stretched from December 2009 to February 2013.
The Matusiewicz family began their stalking campaign by broadly disseminating—by mail, e-mail, websites, Internet postings, and other means—false allegations that Christine Belford had, among other things, abused her children, suffered from mental illness and attempted to harm Lenore Matusiewicz. They used a website, posted YouTube videos, and sent letters to Christine Belford’s church, her children’s schools, the family’s neighbors, friends and relatives repeating their false and defamatory allegations. Christine Belford and her children were placed in fear and suffered substantial emotional distress as a result of the Matusiewicz family’s widespread, public dissemination of this false and defamatory information.
In August 2011, the Family Court of the State of Delaware terminated David T. Matusiewicz’s parental rights as to his children with Christine Belford following a multi-day trial. In doing so, the Family Court rejected David T. Matusiewicz’s assertion that Christine Belford was abusing the children, referring to those allegations as “baseless” and “made up.” Following the completion of the Family Court termination of parental rights trial, the Matusiewicz family recruited and used a variety of people to conduct physical and online surveillance of Christine Belford and her children.
After his release from federal custody, David T. Matusiewicz resided in southern Texas, first with Amy Gonzalez and then with Lenore and Thomas Matusiewicz. Between September and November 2012, the United States Probation Office twice denied David T. Matusiewicz’s requests for permission to travel from Texas to New Jersey. On November 9, 2012, David T. Matusiewicz filed a petition to reduce the monthly child support arrearage payments he owed Christine Belford in the Family Court of the State of Delaware. That petition ultimately resulted in the scheduling of the February 11, 2013 court hearing. Christine Belford was ordered to attend that hearing in the New Castle County Courthouse.
On January 8, 2013, David T. Matusiewicz sought and received permission from the United States Probation Office in Texas to travel to Delaware to attend the child support arrearage hearing scheduled for February 11, 2013. David T. Matusiewicz never informed the probation officer that he intended to travel to Delaware with Thomas and Lenore Matusiewicz.
Between February 4 and 7, 2013, David, Lenore and Thomas Matusiewicz traveled from Texas to the Delaware Valley in two vehicles—a Honda Civic and Honda CRV—later found to contain numerous weapons, ammunition, restraints, an electric shock device, several gas cans, a shovel, and numerous pictures of Christine Belford’s children and residence.
On the morning of February 11, 2013, David and Thomas Matusiewicz drove to a parking garage near the New Castle County Courthouse in the Honda CRV, which contained ammunition, a military style knife, three sets of restraints of progressively smaller sizes, a bullet proof vest, an electric shock device, binoculars, and photographs of Christine Belford’s children and residence. After entering the courthouse lobby at approximately 7:30 a.m., David T. Matusiewicz entered and stayed in the security screening line, while Thomas Matusiewicz moved around the lobby, occasionally approaching and talking to David T. Matusiewicz.
Shortly before 8:00 a.m., David T. Matusiewicz passed through courthouse security screening and walked to another floor of the building. Thomas Matusiewicz remained in the lobby, where he shot Christine Belford multiple times as she entered the courthouse lobby, killing her. He then shot Laura Mulford multiple times as she attempted to flee. After a shootout during which he shot and injured two Capitol Police officers, Thomas Matusiewicz died on the sidewalk of the courthouse of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On February 15, 2013, Amy Gonzalez filed a petition for custody of Christine Belford’s three children in the New Castle County Courthouse, which houses the Family Court of the State of Delaware. The check written to pay the filing fee to the Family Court was dated February 12, 2013—the day after the Courthouse murders.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Delaware State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jamie M. McCall, Edward J. McAndrew, and Shawn A. Weede.