WOODBURY — A Connecticut man, currently being held in federal prison, has been identified by Vermont State Police as a suspect in the double homicide of two people in Woodbury in 2018.
Manuel Gomez, 32, of Hartford, Connecticut, is expected to be charged with two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of first-degree arson for the killings of Carol Fradette, 29, and David Thompson, 48, at their homes on Bliss Road on Oct. 30, 2018.
On Wednesday, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Gomez who is in custody at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in New York, on an unrelated federal conviction for illegal possession of a firearm.
He is expected to be arrested for the Woodbury killings after being released from Otisville, which is scheduled to happen next week.
A press release sent by Vermont State Police on Wednesday said the charges were based on an “extensive investigation that began more than three years ago”
A joint investigation by the Vermont State Police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began after Fradette, Thompson and their three dogs were shot and killed, and their homes, which were separate but on the same property, were set on fire in 2018.
Their bodies were found in their homes. Investigators believe the fires were intended to conceal the homicides.
The Vermont Chief Medical Examiner’s Office determined Fradette’s cause of death to be blunt impact and a gunshot wound. The manner of death is homicide.
Thompson’s cause of death was determined to be multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of death is also homicide.
The two dogs found dead at Thompson’s home were each shot once.
The release sent Wednesday said investigators determined Gomez was selling large quantities of heroin to Thompson, who might have owed Gomez more than $20,000.
Digital evidence shows that Gomez traveled to the Woodbury area from Hartford on the evening of Oct. 30, 2018, and arrived at Thompson’s home shortly before a neighbor called 911 to report a fire at the home.
A news release from October 2018 said on Oct. 30, 2018, around 11:10 p.m., a resident of Bliss Road reported a home across the road was fully engulfed in flames.
The Woodbury Fire Department responded to the home, 715 Bliss Road, where Fradette lived. While fighting the fire, firefighters observed that the adjacent home, at 637 Bliss Road, where Thompson lived, was also on fire. The homes were about 150 feet apart.
The Woodbury Fire Department was able to extinguish both fires but human remains were found inside Fradette’s home and human remains and pet remains were found inside Thompson’s home.
The release sent Wednesday said Gomez has denied knowledge of the homicides or involvement in the deaths of Fradette and Thompson but statements from Gomez about his whereabouts on Oct. 30, 2018, contradict digital and physical evidence police found.
Vermont State Police worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and with Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault throughout the investigation into the murders of Fradette and Thompson, according to the release.
In a statement, Thibault said he was “grateful for the hard work and persistence that went into this investigation.”
“The Vermont State Police, with federal partners, invested significant time and resources to develop the evidence needed to support criminal charges in this complex case. The multi-agency collaboration and follow-through by the investigative team is a testament to the skill and professionalism of Vermont’s law enforcement community, and the shared commitment to seek truth and justice,” he said.
Participating in the case were VSP’s Major Crime Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Crime Scene Search Team, Narcotics Investigation Unit, and Victim Services Unit; the Department of Public Safety Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit; the Vermont Forensic Laboratory; the Vermont Chief Medical Examiner’s Office; the ATF; and the FBI.
Gomez’s arraignment in Vermont will be scheduled after his extradition from New York.