NAUGATUCK — A vine bearing ripening tomatoes sidles the front porch of 88-5 Lantern Park Drive in a condominium complex near Baummer Pond. If you were to pick the fruit of the plant now, you’d be doing so too soon.
The former resident of that unit, 69-year-old Italia Liguori, was plucked from the vine before her rightful time when she was killed last week.
The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported that Liguori died of blunt force head trauma and asphyxiation; the evidence suggests she was beaten and choked to death in the Oct. 1 incident.
Police have a warrant that is yet to be served for an unnamed relative who they say lived in the condo with Ligouri. The Republican-American has reported that friends and neighbors said 17-year-old Angelina Jamele, Liguori’s granddaughter, was the only person living in the condo with her.
Police have not released additional information or officially named Jamelet, but they have said the suspect is being held in a secure Department of Children and Families facility until cleared for a court appearance.
Neighbors and friends said Jamele has struggled with drug addiction and that she and Liguori often argued to a degree that necessitated police intervention.
The killing comes in the wake of last month’s suicide by Wolcott resident Julie Swoszowski in the borough and the brutal murder of medical student Annie Le on the campus of Yale University in New Haven. There was also a shot fired in Lantern Park last month, but no one was hurt in that episode.
The majority of Lantern Park and Pondside residents interviewed, however, didn’t feel that Liguori’s killing was a sign of an overarching pattern—they felt it was an isolated incident.
“It’s quiet here,” said Kristi Serrano of building 66.
Adam Mastronunzio, who said he knows Jamele, echoed this sentiment, adding “Once in a while we get those crazy people that move in—and that’s when stuff [such as the killing] happens.”
Mastronunzio confirmed that Jamele had been mixed up in drug abuse.
Delilah Scott, who lives across from building 88 with her bedridden mother, said she still feels safe in the complex, too. She’s never seen violence in the streets or any indication of major crime in the area.
Jamele is just “one teenager gone bad,” she said, and not a microcosm of the community at large.
Scott even said the incident created a sense of unity among residents, who stood outside last Thursday to watch as police cruisers and news crews swarmed the area.
One resident, Sandra Lopes of 88-7 Lantern Park Drive, two doors down from Liguori’s unit, feels differently.
“I don’t feel very safe here,” she said. “There are a lot of things around here that are not too good … I really don’t like it—especially for my kids.”
The mother of two cited drug use as her biggest qualm about the neighborhood.