Son wanted in parents' murder captured
MANCHESTER — On the run for more than a year, alleged murderer Matthew Dion developed a pattern that eventually led to his capture, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
He had stayed ahead of a police dragnet in Georgia and Florida, mostly by lying low. But not low enough.
U.S. marshals arrested Dion Wednesday in Orange Park, Fla., a quiet suburb of about 5,800 people south of Jacksonville. Recent acquaintances had alerted authorities to Dion, who faces murder charges for the March 19, 2014, strangulation of his parents in their Manchester home.
“He would befriend people, oftentimes he’d be chatty with people at a coffee shop,” said David Cargill, the U.S. marshal for New Hampshire, whose office was the lead agency in the search.
Meanwhile, the world was closing in on Dion. Two months ago, he was added to the Marshal Service’s list of top 15 fugitives. Rewards for information leading to his arrest totaled $30,000. And Florida media were printing, posting and broadcasting his image at the behest of the Marshal’s Service.
Cargill said Dion had recently befriended a woman from the Orange Park area. She took him to a party where he met several people.
On Tuesday night, authorities received a tip from a person who had met Dion at the party.
“The media blitz went out, and the individual went ‘That’s the guy I met last week,’” Cargill said during a news conference at the Manchester Police Department on Wednesday.
Two other independent tips followed.
“It happened very quickly,” said Deputy Marshal Jeff White. “We received a lot of tips (Tuesday) night and (Wednesday) morning.”
Marshal deputies descended on the Astoria Hotel, a $230-a-week, extended-stay hotel where Dion was both living and working as a painter. As soon as Dion ventured outdoors, deputies arrested him, Cargill said.
“He was very calm,” Cargill said.
Dion initially gave a false name — Cameron Bouchard — but eventually admitted he was Matthew Dion, Cargill said. Authorities recovered a silver 2013 Hyundai Elantra that they believed was stolen in September from a St. Petersburg woman that Dion had befriended, said Greg Marano, the deputy marshal who oversaw the Dion search.
A search warrant is being sought for his hotel room in Florida.
During the news conference, authorities praised the media for assisting with Dion’s apprehension.
“The public and the press actually helped us. The more eyes we had looking for him, the better we were,” Cargill said.
“He was just hiding in plain sight. He was a normal, average guy. You wouldn’t pick him out as a murderer,” said Nick Willard, assistant chief of police in Manchester.
Dion is being held at Clay County Jail, 30 miles south of Jacksonville.
On Wednesday, two Manchester detectives boarded a plane for Florida, hoping to escort him back to Manchester.
According to Jeffery Strelzin, a homicide prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office, Dion could waive his rights and return to New Hampshire quickly. Or he could challenge his removal to New Hampshire, which would involve a longer process.
Currently, Dion is charged with second-degree murder in the strangulation deaths of Bob and Connie Dion, his adoptive parents. He is also charged with arson and possession of child pornography.
On March 24, 2014, firefighters discovered the bodies of the Dions in the ground floor of their Mooresville Road home after extinguishing a fire.
Bob Dion was a stamp collector and retired postmaster. Connie Dion was a seamstress. An autopsy later ruled they had been dead for five days before the fire was set.
Jim Normand, the Manchester lawyer who represents their estate, said the Dions’ nephew, Roger Mitchell, is happy to hear that Matthew has been arrested. The family wants him to start answering questions.
“The family has tried to keep an open mind about Matthew,” Normand said, “but his absence now for more than a year is very suspect.”
“They always thought Matthew was a decent enough person and are shocked that this is something Matthew could be involved in,” Normand said.
Strelzin said charges could change as the case makes its way through the process, which will likely include a grand jury review.
He said authorities believe there are no other suspects.