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Thread: Peter Reilly: Did he kill his mom?

  1. #1
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    Peter Reilly: Did he kill his mom?

    This happened in the 1970s one town over from where I grew up. There's a surprising lack of good info on this online, but here's a link with some basic info about the case. For those who don't remember, Peter Reilly was 18 when he came home from a church group meeting to find his mother brutally murdered. Long story short, he confessed, but later recanted. His mother's murder is still unsolved.

    My own mom taught both Reilly and the two guys who later became suspects in school. She always said she thought one of them (not Reilly) did it.

    There's an American Justice episode on this (with crime scene pics) and a book -- one of the first true crime books I ever read -- called "A Death in Canaan." We used to drive by the place where Reilly's mother was killed (the house was torn down) when I was a kid... very eerie.

    http://tcextra.com/terrycowgill/2006...ube-for-jocks/

    1973

    Sept. 28: At some time between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m., Barbara Gibbons, 51, is murdered in her Falls Village home, probably by more than one assailant and almost surely while she puts up a fight for her life. She is stabbed many times and almost beheaded by deep throat slashes. Her nose, three ribs and both thigh bones are broken. Her body is mutilated and internal injuries are inflicted by the sexual use of an unknown weapon. There is a great loss of blood.

    The victim’s son, Peter A. Reilly, 18, returns home from a youth center board meeting at Canaan Methodist Church just moments after the assault. Discovering his mother’s body on the bedroom floor, he makes five telephone calls for medical assistance. The calls bring a state police cruiser and the Canaan volunteer ambulance as well as friends within minutes.

    As other police personnel arrive, led by the Canaan barracks commandant, Lt. James Shay, Peter Reilly is regarded as a suspect. He is questioned and searched. After his constitutional rights are read to him, a statement is taken down, including his estimation that he arrived home at 9:50-9:55 and his belief that, as he saw his mother on the floor, “She was having problems breathing and she was gasping.” He states, “I didn’t touch my mother but went straight to the telephone.”

    Sept. 29: Soon after 2 a.m., four hours after the homicide, Reilly is taken from his home to the Canaan barracks. He waits four more hours until Lieutenant Shay arrives to again read him his rights and begin an hour and a half interrogation. Reilly asks, “Am I actually a suspect?” He is told that he is. Perceiving that his story is not believed, he volunteers for a “lie detector” and is told that one will be arranged.

    After 25 sleepless hours, Reilly is permitted four hours rest in a barracks bedroom. Meantime, a six-hour autopsy of the victim’s body is underway, conducted at Sharon Hospital by Dr. Ernest M. Izumi. He and the state medical examiner, Dr. Elliot Gross, had earlier examined the body at the murder scene. Dr. Izumi’s opinion that some of the blows and wounds were inflicted after breathing had stopped reinforces Lieutenant Shay’s suspicions of Reilly because the suspect said he thought he heard his mother breathing.

    At noon, Reilly is driven to Hartford for a polygraph test that is coupled with a tape-recorded interrogation by Lieutenant Shay and three other officers that continues for some eight hours until almost 11 p.m. Statements that he slashed his mother’s throat with a straight razor and jumped on her legs before phoning for emergency aid are put in writing. After signing the confession, he is arrested, fingerprinted and driven back to Canaan.
    God was my copilot but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him.

  2. #2
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    This crap is still ongoing:

    http://www.truthinjustice.org/reilly.htm

    I don't know what to believe. I was a little young when the murder occurred but I remember when he was exonerated later on (I'm from T-town). My uncle was a sheriff and he was mentioned in the Death in Canaan book. I should ask him about it. Personally, I have no idea if Peter did it. His behavior has been exemplary before and after the incident and, frankly, the State Police's behavior has been rather abysmal. I'm not dissing the cops but, in this particular case, it seems like something's up or they have just handled themselves badly.

  3. #3
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    Wow, did he do it or was he pressured to sign a confession? What that poor woman went through, just horrible

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    I just TIVO'd that American Justice but I haven't watched it yet. As soon as I do I will post an opinion!
    Wanna see my grandkids?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SueWahoo View Post
    This crap is still ongoing:

    http://www.truthinjustice.org/reilly.htm

    I don't know what to believe. I was a little young when the murder occurred but I remember when he was exonerated later on (I'm from T-town). My uncle was a sheriff and he was mentioned in the Death in Canaan book. I should ask him about it. Personally, I have no idea if Peter did it. His behavior has been exemplary before and after the incident and, frankly, the State Police's behavior has been rather abysmal. I'm not dissing the cops but, in this particular case, it seems like something's up or they have just handled themselves badly.
    I don't know what to believe, either. My inclination is that he didn't do it and was pressured into a false confession. There's an article on the Court TV website drawing some parallels between the Reilly case and that of Marty Tankleff, who was convicted of murdering his parents but has since been released:

    http://www.courttv.com/news/tankleff/102904_ctv.html
    God was my copilot but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him.

  6. #6
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    humm. very interesting

  7. #7
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    Peter Reilly

    Quote Originally Posted by SueWahoo View Post
    This crap is still ongoing:

    http://www.truthinjustice.org/reilly.htm

    I don't know what to believe. I was a little yboung when the murder occurred but I remember when he was exonerated later on (I'm from T-town). My uncle was a sheriff and he was mentioned in the Death in Canaan book. I should ask him about it. Personally, I have no idea if Peter did it. His behavior has been exemplary before and after the incident and, frankly, the State Police's behavior has been rather abysmal. I'm not dissing the cops but, in this particular case, it seems like something's up or they have just handled themselves badly.

    I remember when it happened as I lived there. I heard someone specifically state who did it.. and it was not Peter Reilly.
    My blood ran cold that day. I wanted to tell, but was scared of the person who I heard say it, and I knew no one would listen to a little kid like me.
    Well, that was 40 years ago. I wish I could talk to Peter Reilly... and tell him personally what I heard.

  8. #8
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    This was one of the first true crime books I read. I always thought Peter Did Not kill him Mother. donna_elvira do you think it was one of his "friends"

  9. #9
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    He didn't kill his Mom any more than I did.

    Losing his Mom and the aftermath must have been a dreadful journey for him. Poor guy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by donna_elvira View Post
    I remember when it happened as I lived there. I heard someone specifically state who did it.. and it was not Peter Reilly.
    My blood ran cold that day. I wanted to tell, but was scared of the person who I heard say it, and I knew no one would listen to a little kid like me.
    Well, that was 40 years ago. I wish I could talk to Peter Reilly... and tell him personally what I heard.
    Hi, I dont recall your name. If you are from Falls Village you may remember mine. More specifically, you'd remember my younger brother (now deceased) from Peter's case. I am Leo Sochocki. Peter and I grew up together and were good friends. We still are in fact. The posts on this thread and several like it are rather amusing to me. The conjecture is almost laughable. If, on the surface you are naive enough to believe the police accounts I suppose you might give some thought to Peter's guilt. Even a cursory look into the matter shows very clearly that Peter could not have committed this crime. In most accounts you will read that Peter was at a church youth group meeting. He was indeed. I am sure of it for two reasons. The first is my brother. My younger brother was John Sochocki. He was the kid that Pete took home from the meeting. The time line was clearly established as my the meeting was ending at a specific time, Pete drove my brother to my aunts home (where he lived) and dropped him off at a specific point in a movie that was on television. Joh had gone in and caused the family to tell him to hush during a very specific scene that all clearly remembered. They also recalled seeing Pete come and go. The timeline this established made it physically impossible for Peter to be at his home while the murder was taking place. Accounts from others attending the meeting also clearly established that Pete had left with my brother John at exactly the time he stated and is in keeping with the time as established from the scene in the movie.

    My second reason for being absolutely sure of Peter's innocence is like yours. Enough hearsay and conversation with others that, while it isn't conclusive proof of their guilt, coupled to my own relationship with them and knowing of other's statements, lead me to believe it was people in the vicinity of Barbara's home.

    I see that your statements were a while back and you may never see this but I do wonder what would come of everyone that even has a tiny morsel of real knowledge getting together and comparing notes.

    To the folks so sure of Peter's guilt, for crying out loud, read the facts. It was utterly impossible and sadly to say (admitted by no less than the judge who initially convicted Peter, and the States Attorney) simply a case of the police being too willing to push one way and one way only. To this day they are doing their level best to hide both exculpatory evidence as well as understate the level of corruption that was involved in the initial trial.

    Leo Sochocki

  11. #11
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    I wish I could find the book and read it again. It wouldn't change my mind. I will never believe Peter killed her. It just seems like they had a good relationship and really loved each other.

  12. #12
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    Hi Leo,

    I just now saw your post--I've been away from these boards for a while. I wonder if you knew my mother. She taught art in Falls Village in the '70s and early '80s.

    Does anyone actually still think Peter is guilty?! It seems pretty clear that the timeline doesn't fit and that it would have been impossible for him to have been home at the time of the murder.

    I have no "insider" info about the case, but everyone I know in the area seems to think Barbara's neighbors were involved.



    Quote Originally Posted by LSochocki View Post
    Hi, I dont recall your name. If you are from Falls Village you may remember mine. More specifically, you'd remember my younger brother (now deceased) from Peter's case. I am Leo Sochocki. Peter and I grew up together and were good friends. We still are in fact. The posts on this thread and several like it are rather amusing to me. The conjecture is almost laughable. If, on the surface you are naive enough to believe the police accounts I suppose you might give some thought to Peter's guilt. Even a cursory look into the matter shows very clearly that Peter could not have committed this crime. In most accounts you will read that Peter was at a church youth group meeting. He was indeed. I am sure of it for two reasons. The first is my brother. My younger brother was John Sochocki. He was the kid that Pete took home from the meeting. The time line was clearly established as my the meeting was ending at a specific time, Pete drove my brother to my aunts home (where he lived) and dropped him off at a specific point in a movie that was on television. Joh had gone in and caused the family to tell him to hush during a very specific scene that all clearly remembered. They also recalled seeing Pete come and go. The timeline this established made it physically impossible for Peter to be at his home while the murder was taking place. Accounts from others attending the meeting also clearly established that Pete had left with my brother John at exactly the time he stated and is in keeping with the time as established from the scene in the movie.

    My second reason for being absolutely sure of Peter's innocence is like yours. Enough hearsay and conversation with others that, while it isn't conclusive proof of their guilt, coupled to my own relationship with them and knowing of other's statements, lead me to believe it was people in the vicinity of Barbara's home.

    I see that your statements were a while back and you may never see this but I do wonder what would come of everyone that even has a tiny morsel of real knowledge getting together and comparing notes.

    To the folks so sure of Peter's guilt, for crying out loud, read the facts. It was utterly impossible and sadly to say (admitted by no less than the judge who initially convicted Peter, and the States Attorney) simply a case of the police being too willing to push one way and one way only. To this day they are doing their level best to hide both exculpatory evidence as well as understate the level of corruption that was involved in the initial trial.

    Leo Sochocki
    God was my copilot but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him.

  13. #13
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    Hello Donna, I would really like to know what you heard that day. I moved across the street from the former Gibbons residence in August 2015, was told about the story and my landlord is a nice lady who's husband (now deceased) was on the police force at the time but did not work the case. I'm incredibly interested in cold cases and get a real feeling of justice for the families when they are solved. Could you tell if it was one of both (or all 3) parmelee brothers? where are they now? Where might there still be evidence including murder weapon(s)? It appears teh white church id completely different looking now than in 1973, but police did find bloody jeans in the basement of the church during followup leads. The former cottage was ripped down between 1985-1990 (areal photography) and absolutely no physical evidence exists, while residents in the area age, move away, die off and the story seems that the memory will fade and those guilty will not be found. If you have that name your heard all those years ago, tell me please, also where did the parmelees live at the time EXACTLY? I could not find addresses, just :" a trailer 400 yards away".."2 tenths of a mile", "up the street" etc in research.
    If i could find where they lived, perhaps some remote evidence could be found somewhere. Thank you for your help!

  14. #14
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    What did you hear that day? Was it parmelee?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muler View Post
    Hello Donna, I would really like to know what you heard that day. I moved across the street from the former Gibbons residence in August 2015, was told about the story and my landlord is a nice lady who's husband (now deceased) was on the police force at the time but did not work the case. I'm incredibly interested in cold cases and get a real feeling of justice for the families when they are solved. Could you tell if it was one of both (or all 3) parmelee brothers? where are they now? Where might there still be evidence including murder weapon(s)? It appears teh white church id completely different looking now than in 1973, but police did find bloody jeans in the basement of the church during followup leads. The former cottage was ripped down between 1985-1990 (areal photography) and absolutely no physical evidence exists, while residents in the area age, move away, die off and the story seems that the memory will fade and those guilty will not be found. If you have that name your heard all those years ago, tell me please, also where did the parmelees live at the time EXACTLY? I could not find addresses, just :" a trailer 400 yards away".."2 tenths of a mile", "up the street" etc in research.
    If i could find where they lived, perhaps some remote evidence could be found somewhere. Thank you for your help!
    Quote Originally Posted by Muler View Post
    What did you hear that day? Was it parmelee?
    Please combine these two posts, Rule 6
    You can fix anything but a blank page. --Bonnie Hearn Hill


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    What are the Parmelee brothers names?

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    Parmalee

    Quote Originally Posted by AngieDFan View Post
    What are the Parmelee brothers names?
    Michael and timothy, its been VERY tough trying to track them down (have not been successful), there is a former girlfriend that lives in Bristol now, was living in the trailer with michael the night he probably killed Barbara with his brother Tim. They were seen running out of the house by a coworker, they passed the polygraph in (1977?) and were dismissed. That was 1973, this is 2016 and numerous coldcases are being solved using DNA. I say take down the parmalee brothers once and for all. All I could find is that they lived in places such as Millerton, Just over border in Massachusetts, and various moving around. I can just see their old faces on the news soon, busted using modern DNA and forensics, thinking they had gotten away with it. I'm an ambitious grad student with a penchant for research, if anyone around here can supply any info at all, I'll at least try to run with it and see if I can find an investigator interested in reopening this case. Thank you

  18. #18
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    Searching in public information sites I do see a Michael T Parmalee in Haddam, CT. Born in 1956 and a Timothy A Parmalee Ancramdale, NY. born in 1957. Not sure if that is them (there is more with those names than you would think).

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    Just reread this

    Quote Originally Posted by AngieDFan View Post
    Searching in public information sites I do see a Michael T Parmalee in Haddam, CT. Born in 1956 and a Timothy A Parmalee Ancramdale, NY. born in 1957. Not sure if that is them (there is more with those names than you would think).
    I just re-read this. I have to think the two you found are correct. Michael was a schoolmate and the same age as me. Tim was one year younger. The birthdates seem to coincide. I will say this. Everyone in our nation is innocent till proven guilty. At least that's the law. The truth is (as is proved out by Peter himself) that it doesnt always work that way.

    I have my suspicions about the Parmalee brothers. The relationship they had with Barbara coupled to the hair trigger both, especially Tim further coupled to a less than ideal home life lead to suspect. I also recall an incident a few months after the fact staying over at the Parmalee's, when Michael woke screaming from a nightmare. I cant say what was in his subconscious mind but he woke up screaming the words, "No dont! She's done she's done." And "Stop fighting" That is by no means concrete evidence but that was the last time I spent with eitehr of them as my own dnager alert went off and I had not suspected them till that moment.

    Peter and I still communicate regularly. He is aware of all these things as are his attorneys and the police. I dont think we'll ever know

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    I just read about this on the internet after finding it here, had never heard of it until now. What a terrible injustice, and what's really sad is that prosecutor's have no qualms about convicting an innocent person just to win their cases. If it is shown that they willfully held back evidence that clearly suggests the defendant is innocent, why can't THEY be charged with prosecutorial misconduct? Makes me sick they get away with this. Is there any DNA left over from the Peter Reilly case, given that the slain woman was sexually assaulted?
    By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death.... He that dies this year is quit for the next.
    --William Shakespeare!

  21. #21
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    Old detailed article about the tight timeline (5 minutes this way and that way) and the jailhouse "snitch" who had previously lied in other cases.

    https://news.google.com/newspapers?n...,3208827&hl=en

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