“How did we miss that?” Avon police say there were no red flags in the sergeant’s record or behavior before the murder-suicide

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In his nearly 25 years with the Avon Police Department, there were no red flags indicating Sgt. Thomas Jacius was having trouble at home or would ever be violent or suicidal, Avon Police Chief Paul Melanson said Monday.

A week after Jacius took his own life after killing his wife and high school sweetheart Doreen Jacius, Melanson said everyone who knew the sergeant was still “trying to connect the dots” and understand how they could have been so blindsided by a Theirs. .

“Everybody’s looking at themselves going, ‘How did we miss that?’ Melanson said at the Avon Police Department Monday afternoon.

The chief said the entire department is reeling from the news that Jacius and his wife died in an apparent murder-suicide on Aug. 28. They are trying, he said, to figure out what happened at Jacius’ home last Sunday, when Jacius was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and his wife, the beloved city library director, was fatally shot at least three times, according to police and a medical examiner.

Jacius would have been with the department for 25 years this October. He served as a patrolman, an undercover narcotics officer, volunteered as a police explorer, and hosted events like “bike rodeos” in the community where he taught kids the ABC’s of bike safety — air, brakes, chains — and took them on obstacle courses.

He was an avid mountain biker who participated every year in a charity bike ride for people with cancer after his daughter Amanda battled a brain tumor when she was just 3, Lt. John Schmalberger said.

The week of the shooting, he had plans to go fishing with another member of the department, Melanson said.

At a recent supervisor meeting, he was smiling and laughing, Melanson said. Nothing about his behavior in the days leading up to the murder-suicide seemed out of character. That has left them “with more questions than answers,” Melanson said.

“How can someone who has represented us, the Avon Police Department, so well for almost 25 years do this?” asked. But that question, he said, “pales in comparison to what everyone thinks about his daughters.”

The couple left behind a 21-year-old daughter who still lived at home with them, police said, and a 19-year-old daughter who was away at college in Florida. It was unclear if their older daughter was home at the time of the shooting.

An obituary for Doreen Jacius said that “her daughters were the focus of her life, creating experiences and creating lasting memories with them.”

Melanson said the couple’s oldest daughter faced medical issues in her childhood and the department rallied around the family.

His daughter had a brain tumor when she was 3, Schmalberger said, and members of the department cooked them meals and did all the “things you would do for a close family member whose child was sick.”

“I think that’s another part of the family that feels betrayed, getting to know the family a little bit,” Melanson said. “I can only imagine what the Doreen and Jacius families are going through because I know what the rank and file here are going through.”

Knowing Thomas Jacius as a family man and interacting with his family has shocked officers into anger, Melanson said. They are left wondering, “How could someone take an oath to protect and serve, and do it so well for so many years, work side by side, and then do something like this?”

By killing his wife and killing himself, Melanson said Jacius left his department, his daughters and the rest of their families to pick up the pieces of the lives and families he has destroyed.”

Jacius’ extensive personnel file, released by the department Monday, contained positive evaluations from his superiors and recommendations for promotion, including his promotion to sergeant in 2001.

His evaluations suggest that he had taken the initiative to become more involved in the community, receive further training and move up the ranks of the department.

The records included praise from then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell for a response to a fatal crash, a letter of “heartfelt thanks” sent by the parents of a child Jacius worked with, police merit awards and a certificate of recognition for “outstanding contribution to the fight against drunk driving”.

At the time of his death, he served as a gunner — a person who disassembles, cleans and inspects the department’s weapons — a firearms instructor, a bike squad supervisor and an instructor for Simunition, a color-based ammunition simulation training, according to on the records and Schmalberger.

Melanson said the Avon Police Department has Jacius’ service weapon in its possession, but referred to Connecticut State Police whether his department-issued firearm was used in the killing.

He said officers do take their assigned weapons home when off duty, but are required to keep them secured in a locked container when not in their immediate control.

As of July 2020, his annual salary was $108,000, records show.

In 24 years and 10 months, two official complaints were filed against him. One was in 2005 when a parent complained about his daughter being arrested. An investigation found that he acted properly in the course of his duties.

The other was for using his department’s email system to “promote negative information about Barack Obama” in 2008. He and several other officers received written reprimands for using their department’s emails for that purpose.

Police records show Jacius was a graduate of East Granby High School and attended Tunxis Community College.

As law enforcement officers, Melanson said everyone in his department is trained to recognize the signs that could lead to suicide or violence. But in all the years they knew Jacius, they said they didn’t exist.

The chief said everyone is wondering, “Were there signs? Was there anything we could do?’

“And I can tell you every person in the police department that the answer is: absolutely not.

“This is nothing that could be seen from our end,” he said.

The pair’s deaths were still under investigation by Connecticut State Police.

The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said autopsy results determined that Thomas Jacius died by suicide and Doreen Jacius died by homicide.

Doreen Jacius was laid to rest during private services for family and friends last week.

Her obituary said her life was busy and full: She volunteered in her community. She was a devoted mother, sister and aunt. She spent time at the beach and in the mountains and served the local library as its director for years.

She was a graduate of East Granby High School and received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Connection, according to the obituary.

A GoFundMe has been set up for her daughters.

The Avon Police Department said it hopes to support the Jacius family in any way it can and hopes for a thorough investigation by state police that leaves no stone unturned.

“We’re looking for answers,” Melanson said. “Though like I said, whatever answer you give us, this is horrible. It’s absolutely horrible. And it will never make sense to us.”

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