WALLINGFORD — The state’s attorney’s office has reclassified the 1988 disappearance of 12-year-old Doreen Jane Vincent from a missing person case to a homicide investigation.
Police Lt. Michael Colavolpe said police are investigating a suspect and expect to submit an arrest warrant possibly within the next year.
The suspect has not been publicly named, but Colavolpe used male pronouns several times when referring to the suspect.
His comments came during an evidentiary hearing at the state Freedom of Information Commission Monday in a complaint over public access to files related to the case.
Colavolpe, who supervises the detective division, oversees the investigation into Vincent’s disappearance from her father's home on Whirlwind Hill Road, which police have long considered suspicious. He said that the change to a homicide classification was made by the state’s attorney one to two months ago.Town to release case documents
Monday’s hearing was a continuance from August regarding a complaint filed by Jessica Fritz Aguiar and Clovercrest Media Group against the Wallingford Police Department after police denied a request she made seeking access to the entire Vincent case file.
Attorney Kathleen K. Ross, the FOIC hearing officer in the case, had requested additional evidence from police to support their position that the records are exempt from disclosure, and how disclosure would harm a specific future law enforcement action.
Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small, who appeared on behalf of the police department, said Monday that she plans to disclose some documents, regarding what she called "dead leads," within two weeks.
Colavolpe said the main reason for withholding records related to the Vincent case would be to prevent witnesses from re-reading their old testimony or the testimony of others, which could cause them to change or exaggerate their story, or be influenced by the suspect, if police re-interview them.
“I want to know what they know from memory,” he said.
He added that he also has concerns about the suspect viewing the police file, which includes the mental impressions of the investigators.
“We don’t want the suspect to know what we’ve done at this point and what we have on him,” he said, “and it would also give him a chance to formulate an alibi, and kind of a defense.”
Fritz Aguiar appeared on behalf of the podcast team.
She pointed out that the suspect has had more than 30 years to formulate a defense, and that the witnesses could have spoken to each other and exchanged information in that time.
She said there hasn’t been a case report made since November 2011, and the latest one before that was from 1991.
“If this a prospective law enforcement action, I would expect to see something more recent than November of 2011,” she said.
She also said that the cases Small cited as precedent for withholding the records are from outside of Connecticut, and therefore subject to different Freedom of Information laws.
“General questions or worries about a prospective law enforcement action aren’t enough to satisfy the exemption” under Connecticut FOI law, she said.Podcast explored case
Fritz Aguiar, a lawyer who works as an insurance claims analyst, assisted with research and co-hosted several episodes of "Faded Out," a true crime podcast that recently explored the unsolved missing person case.
Fritz Aguiar has said she plans to start a spin-off podcast delving further into the Vincent case.
Clovercrest, the media production company that produced the latest season of “Faded Out,” is owned by Fritz Aguiar's husband, Joe Aguiar.
The podcast devoted its second season to the cold case in a series of 26 episodes released between January and August.
Host Sarah DiMeo created the "Faded Out" podcast. Assisting with production were Aguiar through Clovercrest, and Fritz Aguiar.
Fritz Aguiar filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission in June after Wallingford police denied a request she made May 30 seeking access to the entire case file.
Police denied the request via letter May 31, saying that since the missing person case is still open the files are "not releasable nor available for inspection."
According to state law, police departments have the ability to deny records requests that, in their estimation, would disclose information that would harm future law enforcement action.
On June 11, Fritz Aguiar submitted a letter to the FOIC calling the denial "arbitrary," saying police have failed to prove that there's been recent activity in the case or any pending legal action.
The commission held its first evidentiary hearing Aug. 15.