After reopening their investigation, Connecticut police have determined that Dylan McDermott’s mother, Diane, was murdered in 1967 at the hand of her live-in gangster boyfriend John Sponza.
Waterbury police reopened the investigation one year ago, the Republican-American newspaper reports, after the American Horror Story actor contacted them with questions. McDermott was five-years-old at the time of his mother’s death, which was originally ruled as an accident. Sponza, the only witness to Diane’s death, had told authorities that she accidentally shot herself after picking up a gun he was cleaning.
Police told the newspaper that they had found enough evidence to file murder charges against Sponza, who police say had ties to organized crime. Sponza was shot to death in 1972 and his body was found in the trunk of a car.
“What troubled me was that there was very little follow up other than the statement Sponza had given to police,” Police Superintendent Michael Gugliotti said. “Sponza is telling the police that night that he very rarely, if ever, had arguments, yet every we spoke to, including Dylan, who was only 5 at the time, remembered very violent, vicious arguments… Dylan vividly recalls the amount of times, not only flashing the gun, but pointing it at the kid, saying, ‘Shut up and get out of here.’ He’s still probably traumatized by that.”
McDermott declined to comment to the newspaper, but Gugliotti recalled a meeting with the actor and Mayor Neil M. O’Leary while in town for a fundraiser last year.
“He said, 'In order for me to survive and to get where I am today, I needed to bury that moment in my life deep within myself,'” said Gugliotti. “He said, 'It wasn’t until recently that I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m able to begin to process all of this and make it part of [my] life.'”
Medical examiner H. Wayne Carver reviewed Diane’s autopsy, determining that the gun found near her body was too small a caliber to be the same weapon that killed her. The fatal wound also showed that the murder weapon had been pressed to the back of her head, his report states.
“I’m happy to know my mother wasn’t mentally ill or depressed,” said McDermott’s sister, Robin Herrera. “Somebody took her from us; she didn’t leave us.”
As a result of the reopened investigation, Sponza has been implicated in at least two additional unsolved homicides.