Thursday, April 27, 2006

Unsolved Mystery: Fiocco

I'm sure you've heard by now that the body found Tuesday in a Pennsylvania landfill is indeed that of TCNJ freshman, John Fiocco, Jr. Identification was made using dental records. Investigators now await DNA results for final confirmation, as well as toxicology results from an autopsy performed Tuesday evening. The medical examiner was unable to determine a cause of death. There were no bullet or stab wounds to the body, which was badly decomposed and had sustained multiple fractures from the trash compacting system. Due to the fact that several pints of Fiocco's blood were found in the garbage bin, investigators believe that Fiocco was dead before sanitation workers removed the contents to a processing facility and, ultimately, the landfill.

The investigation is ongoing. Police have found no positive evidence of foul play, but consider the young man's demise a "suspicious death." State police superintendent, Col. Rick Fuentes, told the press that 'despite hundreds of interviews with students and university staff, police have found no one whose conduct seems suspicious. "We have no persons of interest," Fuentes said.'

As for myself, I'm beginning to wonder if investigators will be able to determine how John Fiocco, Jr. ended up in that garbage bin, but it's good to know that they haven't yet given up.
Investigators who have now been working on the case for more than a month say it could be weeks before forensic tests on Fiocco's remains yield clues that could shed light on the 19-year-old's final hours.

Police suggested that they were considering several possible scenarios that could explain how a drunken Fiocco ended up in a campus trash bin after a night of partying on March 25. But in a meeting with reporters at the college campus in suburban Mercer County, they declined to provide any specifics about where they might turn now.

Several questions cross my mind:

  • In additon to the blood found in and around the trash bin, was there, as reported earlier, blood found on the platform below the trash chute?

    A presence of blood there would indicate that he did indeed go down the garbage chute.

  • Were any hairs or fibers from Mr. Fiocco's clothing found around the garbage chute opening?

    This would obviously be another strong indicator that his body traveled through the chute.

  • Were Mr. Fiocco's fingerprints found inside the rim of the trash chute doorway, indicating that he might possibly have entered the chute of his own volition?

    While this seems highly unlikely, it must be considered. When drinking is involved, all judgment can and often does go out the window. However, fingerprints in that location would not necessarily prove that no one else was involved -- only that Mr. Fiocco was, at least, semi-conscious when he entered the chute.

    An absence of his fingerprints, in the presence of other evidence such as fibers, would give a strong indication that he was unconscious and, thus, put into the chute by one or more other people.

  • Have police found an explanation for the one wet sock found in the dorm room where Mr. Fiocco was believed to have fallen asleep? Was the other sock found with the body?

    The wet sock stands out as a puzzling thing to me. I'm curious to know if the corresponding shoe was wet as well and whether any of his friends have any knowledge as to how the sock became wet. Maybe there's a perfectly innocent explanation for it, and it has no relevance whatsoever to the case, but I'm bothered by it.

  • What is the proximity of the trash chute to the room where Fiocco fell asleep and was last seen by fellow students?

  • Was any commotion heard by anyone in nearby rooms?

  • Was any forensic evidence found beneath Fiocco's fingernails, indicating that he put up a fight?

I'm sure there are additional questions relevant to the investigation, but I'm out of time for now. I'll leave it to you, the reader, to ask the rest. Nevertheless, I suppose we must put our faith in the investigative team to come up with the answers. I hope that those answers are to be had and that the mystery does not remain unsolved.

Anyone with information is asked to call the New Jersey State Police Tip Line at 1-877-748-6577. At one time The College of New Jersey had set up their own tip line and email address. I'm not sure if those are still active, but the phone number and email address are listed in the last paragraph of my original entry on this case, entitled John Fiocco, Jr.

In addition to the North article linked above, the Philadelphia Inquirer has a thorough and informative article on the background and investigation.