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Local police travel to Florida for murder investigation

Local police travel to Florida for murder investigation

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Kevin L. Gonyea

Kevin L. Gonyea is escorted into Kingsbury Town Court on July 12 for a court appearance for allegedly killing of his grandmother. Gonyea faces additional charges in a 15-count indictment which also names his wife Melissa Gonyea.

Washington County sheriff’s investigators traveled to Florida in recent days as they continued to investigate last week’s killing of a 95-year-old Fort Ann woman.

Washington County sheriff’s Capt. Tony LeClaire said the investigation has continued as the two former caregivers for victim Leona Twiss remain in Washington County Jail.

LeClaire said investigators continue to seek to talk to those who had contact with suspects Kevin L. Gonyea and his wife, Melissa Gonyea, since they arrived in Fort Ann last summer to care for Twiss, who was Kevin Gonyea’s grandmother.

Mr. Gonyea, 50, faces a second-degree murder charge for allegedly choking his grandmother to death July 9 in what police described as a “mercy” killing as she battled dementia and was being considered for a nursing home.

Both he and his wife face felony charges for tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution for disposing of a towel that police believe was used to kill Ms. Twiss in her Twiss Road home.

The death was initially believed to be from natural causes, with no obvious injuries to Ms. Twiss. But an autopsy found she was strangled, and the Gonyeas were arrested after sheriff’s officers and State Police questioned them.

LeClaire said sheriff’s officers were in Florida running down leads about the “background” of the Gonyeas, who spent most of their lives in Florida before coming to Fort Ann last summer. Mr. Gonyea came north to care for Twiss, who was his maternal grandmother.

He was originally from Fort Ann, but has spent the past 30 or so years in the South.

LeClaire would not say if the efforts in Florida yielded anything substantive.

“We have been out doing a lot of interviews,” he said.

Gonyea had a criminal history of domestic violence arrests in Florida, including two arrests shortly before he came to Washington County.

Florida online public records show he was arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges in late 2015, including a felony child abuse charge and misdemeanor charge alleging he violated an order of protection.

He was convicted of the misdemeanor, but the felony count was dropped in March, several months before he moved north to stay with Twiss.

Court-appointed lawyers for the two suspects could not be reached Wednesday or Thursday.

Both Gonyeas are due back in Kingsbury Town Court on Aug. 2, though grand jury action before that could render the hearing moot. Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said earlier this week that no grand jury date had been set.

Anyone with information in the case was asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 747-4623.


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