Suspect in dismembering says he met woman online
URBANA (AP) — A man suspected of stabbing, suffocating and dismembering his girlfriend told a newspaper that he met her through Facebook while looking for new friends and that he met two of his alleged accomplices at a library just three days before the killing.
Matthew Puccio, 25, is among five people charged in connection with the death of 21-year-old Jessica Rae Sacco, whose remains were found in the bathtub of their Urbana duplex apartment in late March, about a week after police believe she was killed. A couple from Fenton, Mich., and two people from Urbana are accused of failing to intervene in the killing and helping Puccio cut off or transport limbs that were dumped in southern Ohio and Kentucky, about 70 to 85 miles away.
In an interview, Puccio said he met Urbana residents Sharon Cook and Christopher Wright at a local library days before the killing, then contacted them afterward and was stunned that they helped him cover it up instead of calling the police, the Springfield News-Sun (http://bit.ly/HnNkaf ) reported Sunday.
“It shocked the hell out of me,” Puccio said. “I figured they’d be the first to call the cops on me.”
Puccio said he had met Sacco through Facebook while he was living in Texas. Puccio said Sacco provided support he needed after his former fiancÃ©e left him and took two of his children.
Puccio said he and Sacco argued often and that their relationship became more stressed because she didn’t get along with Andrew Forney and his wife, the Michigan couple who began living at the home shortly after Puccio moved in last fall.
“They always argued, always fought, never got along with each other,” Puccio said. “Jess would blow up at them for no reason. Then Jess would blow up at me for things they were doing.”
Puccio said he grew up in Woodland, Calif., and had been friends with Forney for years because they attended school together and their families went to the same church. Puccio said he spent the later years of his youth moving between relatives’ homes and group homes and sometimes got into trouble by fighting with other teens, even smashing one in the head with a bar stool.
His account of how he became acquainted with the others charged in the case contradicts information provided by police, who have said Puccio and Sacco recently met the Forneys online and that the group members were “loose friends.”
It’s tough to determine the accuracy of Puccio’s comments because authorities haven’t disclosed much about him or the case, the News-Sun reported.
Puccio has said Sacco begged him to kill her after he confronted her about text messages she’d sent saying she wanted him dead.
Friends of Sacco say they don’t believe that. Amanda Erb, who attended high school with Sacco, described her as a sweet “goofball” with a good sense of humor who wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Erb arranged a candlelight vigil Saturday attended by about 50 people, some of whom brought stuffed animals and wreaths for a makeshift memorial in front of the home where she was found.
Another court hearing in the case was scheduled for Tuesday.
The charges against Andrew Forney, 26, include abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, failure to report a crime and possession of criminal tools. His wife, 25, is charged with obstructing justice, failure to report a crime, possession of criminal tools and complicity to tampering with evidence.
The counts against Wright, 37, include abuse of corpse, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and failure to report a crime.
Cook, 25, is charged with failure to report a crime and other complicity charges.
Wright’s attorney said he had not seen the News-Sun report and declined to comment Sunday. Messages were left Sunday for attorneys for Cook and the Forneys.
The Champaign County prosecutor also has declined to comment on details of the case.