Agencies local, state, and national working to solve murders

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Flowers surround a tree on the property at 1846 Western Ave. in Guilderland, where a family of two adults and two children were found dead last Wednesday, Oct. 8. Mourners have been bringing flowers, balloons, and teddy bears to the home to give their condolences. Two pumpkins sit abandoned on the porch. At least four police agencies are working together to solve the case. 

GUILDERLAND — At least four different agencies are working together to solve the quadruple homicide that was discovered last Wednesday, Oct. 8, where a couple and their two children were murdered in their Guilderland home at 1846 Western Avenue.

The Guilderland Police responded to the 9-1-1 call, and when they “realized the gravity of the situation,” said Police Chief Carol Lawlor, they called the New York State Police.

The NYSP has been heading the investigation ever since, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation division in Albany. The FBI would not comment other than saying it is helping with the investigation.

Guilderland has all three of its investigators working with the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“The BCI is, in effect, our detectives,” said Trooper Mark Cepiel, public information officer for the State Police, “but we refer to them as investigators.”

The State Police have also brought in interpreters to help cross the language barrier, as the murder victims were from China, and many of their family and friends do not speak English. 

Cepiel said they have called in linguistics support from within the State Police, and other involved agencies, and civilians have been helping as well.

The BCI within the State Police has many units, and “a good number of them,” are involved, Cepiel said. The auto theft unit, for example, is not being called on, but the major crimes unit and forensics unit are helping with the investigation.

Lawlor spoke with The Enterprise on Monday, and said the forensic team finished up that morning.

In press conferences last week, officials said there were 50 law enforcement agents working on the crime. Cepiel said that 50 is an approximate number, and that it may change daily.

While the State Police is considered the lead agency, Cepiel said, the relationship is more of a joint investigation with Guilderland. The State Police is lending its resources to Guilderland, including the BCI.

The State Police have made contact with the New York City Police Department, as well as the United States Department of State and the Department of Justice, Cepiel said, although the Department of State could not confirm their involvement.

Elizabeth Coomb, deputy criminal chief of the Northern District of New York within the Department of Justice, told The Enterprise Wednesday, “The U.S. Attorney has offered the assistance of his office to the investigation.”

The U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of New York is Richard Hartunian.

If an investigation is leading in a certain direction, Cepiel said, the state police reaches out to organizations that may be able to help.

The State Police controls publication of information about the investigation, which is still active, Cepiel said, and is “cautious about the release of information” to help investigators distinguish, when interviewing sources, between what they actually know and what they’ve heard from reports.

“When an arrest is made, the details are for the court,” he said.

The tip line, at 1-800-GIVE-TIP, and email address, , are still open, and have apparently been fruitful for the investigation.

“There’s a reason why we are keeping it active,” Cepiel said of the crime tip line.

“It’s 24/7,” Cepiel said of the investigation. “Somebody is always working on it, and will be until it’s solved.”

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