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Matthew Dion listens to the victim's statement from his former fiance Pamela Focosi at Hillsborough Superior Court in Manchester on Thursday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Dion pleads guilty in parents' Manchester murders, sentenced to two terms of 30 years to life


MANCHESTER — Six months before he killed his parents, an unemployed Matthew Dion, 40, was selling off rare stamps he stole from his father, a state prosecutor said Thursday morning at Dion's sentencing hearing.

Dion pleaded guilty in Hillsborough County Superior Court North to two counts of second-degree murder and to arson.

Under a negotiated plea, he was sentenced to 60 years to life in New Hampshire State Prison, essentially assuring he will die there.

Dion did not give a statement at his sentencing hearing. According to Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery A. Strelzin, Dion never expressed any remorse for killing his parents, Robert Dion, 71, and Constance Dion, 67.

In a September 2014 letter postmarked from Georgia that he sent to the Attorney General's Office, he expressed regret for putting firefighters' lives at risk and for the deaths of the family's cats, which he had left in his parents' burning home.

He said he was sorry for people who loved his parents, according to the prosecutor.

After Dion was sentenced to two 30-year to life sentences on two second-degree murder charges and a concurrent 7 1/2- to 15-year sentence for arson, Strelzin told reporters that investigators theorized Robert Dion, 71, discovered stamps missing from his extensive collection and on March 19, 2014, confronted his son, who killed the retired North Salem postmaster.

Then, Matthew Dion murdered his mother and drove to Boston, where he sold off some of his father's stamps at the Colonial Trading Co., Strelzin said.

Investigators learned that for six months prior to killing his parents, Dion had been selling his father's stamps at the store, receiving about $6,000 for them.

When he was on the lam for 14 months, he sold other stamps in Florida as well.

Attorney James Normand, who is handling the Dion estate’s probate case, said the stamp collection was valued at $100,000. A few stamps were recovered, he said, but none were worth much.

The Dions' bodies remained hidden in the basement of their home until March 24, 2014, when Dion set fire to the house, Strelzin said.

Firefighters found a trail of stamps leading out of the 210 Mooresville Road home when they arrived to extinguish the blaze. A woman who reported the fire told investigators a car was backed up in front of the home at the time.

Inside the house, firefighters found the Dions' bodies. Wires were wrapped around their throats.

Dion, Strelzin said, had stuffed material into holes he punched in walls, poured gasoline throughout the house and then set it on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence.

Strelzin said Dion closed up the house but, in doing so, cut off air to feed the flames, so while the house was heavily damaged in the blaze and subsequent explosion, evidence was recovered.

For three days after the murders, Dion and the teenage son of his then fiancee, Pam Focosi, stayed in the home with the bodies. The teenager was unaware that Dion, who was a father figure to him, had killed the Dions and that their bodies were in the lower level, where Dion had a room that was off limits to everyone.

In the days after the murders, Dion told people who asked about his parents that they had gone away for a few days. The Dions missed a March 19 fundraising event in Loudon and their friends wanted to know where they were.

Both of the Dions were active in the community. Robert Dion, Normand said, attended stamp collecting events nearly every weekend and, at the time of his death, was in the final days of planning the 54th annual Manchester Stamp Club show in Hooksett. Connie Dion, he said, was an accomplished seamstress, who did embroidery, counted cross stitch and quilting, which she taught to others.

Strelzin said Dion knew he couldn't keep up the charade, so he decided to burn down the house with the Dions' bodies in it.

Focosi, the mother of Dion's 4-year-old son, gave a lengthy, emotional statement at Dion’s sentencing. With lead homicide investigator Lt. Joseph Mucci on one side of her and a victim witness advocate on the other, Focosi asked Dion to give her the courtesy of looking at her while she spoke, which he did.

She said she, the children, her family and his parents all loved and respected him. They would have helped him, had he asked. She, their son and her other children for a time all lived with the Dions, who she said would do anything for her and the children.

But in January 2014, she said, she noticed a change in her fiance. One night, she said, she woke up to find him over her bed. She thought he was going to kill her.

Normand said Focosi had moved out of the house at the time the Dions were murdered, but that her 15-year-old son had gone back to live with them.

After realizing what happened and with Dion having fled the state, Focosi said she feared he would return, kill her and kidnap the children. She said she struggles with survivor's guilt.

A statement from Roger Mitchell, the Dions' nephew and executor of their estate, also was read at the sentencing. In it, Mitchell thanked law enforcement, including the Manchester Police Department and U.S. Marshal's Service. "They never quit looking," Mitchell said.

He said the family never had "ill will for Matthew and were surprised that he might be the type of individual that could actually do this terrible crime. We hope that the souls of Bob and Connie Dion can now rest in peace."

Dion was not arrested until last June, when the U.S. Marshal's Office posted a reward that climbed to nearly $25,000 and publicized the case in Florida, adding Dion to its "15 Most Wanted."

Normand said he found a clause in the couple's house insurance policy allowing for a $5,000 reward in case of arson and U.S. Deputy Marshal Greg Murano got his office to add to it.

He credited both Murano and Mucci for "keeping the drumbeat going" and the reward as the motivation behind people calling the U.S. Marshals to report Dion was hiding out in Orange Park, Fla. at an extended-stay motel, where he worked as a painter.

Someone recognized him at a party and called the U.S. Marshal Service. He was arrested June 3.

Dion's lengthy sentence was the result of a plea bargain under which two charges of first-degree murder and three counts of possession of child pornography were dropped.

Normand said Matthew Dion is the legal heir to his parents' estate but he will be filing a petition in probate court to strike his interest and name his son as the heir.

pgrossmith@unionleader.com


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