WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A former New Jersey police officer who killed his ex-daughter-in-law and another woman at a Delaware courthouse before fatally shooting himself was diagnosed more than 20 years ago with a brain tumor, records obtained by The Associated Press show.
A neurosurgeon at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia who examined Thomas Matusiewicz after a car accident made the diagnosis in November 1990. In a letter to a referring physician obtained by The AP on Wednesday, Dr. Giancarlo Barolat said a CAT scab revealed a meningioma about four centimeters deep and about five centimeters in diameter.
According to the letter, Barolat noted that Matusiewicz (muh-TOO'-suh-wits) was not suffering any symptoms and recommended only that the tumor be monitored to see if it was growing, in which case "I would definitely pursue surgical removal."
Barolat, who now runs a clinic in Colorado, said Wednesday that he did not remember Matusiewicz.
"That's a while ago," he noted.
Matusiewicz's family has said they believe his violent actions last week may have been affected by an untreated brain tumor.
While he did not recall Matusiewicz's case specifically, Barolat said meningiomas that affect the frontal lobe of the brain can affect personality. In his notes to Matusiewicz's referring physician in 1990, Barolat described his tumor as a "left frontal meningioma."
Delaware State Police said Thomas Matusiewicz, 68, walked into the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington on Monday and shot and killed former daughter-in-law Christine Belford, 39, and her friend Laura Mulford, 47, before exchanging gunfire with police and taking his own life.
The killings capped a bitter, years-long custody battle involving the slain woman and the gunman's son, David Matusiewicz. Thomas Matusiewicz had previously complained that his family wasn't getting justice in a lawsuit Belford filed against his family claiming the son had kidnapped the pair's three young daughters.
The Delaware medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy on Thomas Matusiewicz but has refused to release the findings, even to his family.
"The autopsy report has not been provided to the next of kin at this time because the attorney general's office is conducting an investigation into the police officers' use of force in this incident," said Jason Miller, a spokesman for state Department of Justice.
Matusiewicz's widow, Lenore Matusiewicz, said this week that she wants her own independent autopsy.
"I want to have my own CAT scan of Tom's head done," she said. "They did the autopsy, but I want my own CAT scan."
"If Tom had a meningioma, he was not himself," she added, saying her husband had become very secretive, was constantly losing things, and that his behavior had changed in the months before the shootings.
Lenore Matusiewicz said she had spoken with Michael Price, chief forensic investigator for the medical examiner's office, but was told she could not have a copy of the autopsy report.
"He said he could not release any information to me, even though I'm Tom's wife ... that they did a complete examination of Tom's body, and in order for him to release anything to me I had to contact the attorney general's office."