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FORT EDWARD — The two relatives of the elderly Fort Ann woman who were charged last week in connection with her death attracted police suspicion at her home the night she died, one of them flashing a corrections officer badge to a police officer at the woman’s home, court records show.

Gordon W. Twiss, 73, and David M. Twiss, 52, both of Hadlock Pond Road, Fort Ann, pleaded not guilty in Washington County Court to felony second-degree conspiracy.

The charge alleges they “conspired” to have 95-year-old Leona Twiss killed last summer. Gordon Twiss is the son of Leona Twiss and David Twiss is her grandson.

Another of Leona Twiss’ grandsons, Kevin L. Gonyea, 50, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month for the July 9 strangulation death of his grandmother.

Gordon Twiss and David Twiss were charged for allegedly plotting with Gonyea to kill Mrs. Twiss, for reasons that have not been specified.

Court records filed after last week’s indictment shed light on behavior that police found strange and which prompted officers to focus on the family members.

David Twiss flashed a retired state corrections officers badge to the first Washington County sheriff’s deputy on the scene. He “appeared very nervous,” wrote Parker Wilson, then a county sheriff’s deputy who now works for Saratoga Springs Police.

“In my experience, they only show me credentials or a badge when they are trying to gain some sort of favor from me,” Wilson wrote.

As police officers talked to relatives in Mrs. Twiss’ home, David Twiss “was acting strangely and nervous ... he was overly befriending me,” Wilson wrote.

“He kept asking what was going on and appeared very nervous,” Wilson wrote.

Sheriff’s Senior Investigator Kristen Hardy wrote that David Twiss referenced a retired sheriff’s deputy to whom he is related and asked Hardy if she had his phone number so he could call him.

At one point, David Twiss pulled Wilson aside and referenced Gonyea when saying, “I know what’s going on here, and just so you know, he’s not going to go willingly.”

On July 11, sheriff’s officers asked David Twiss to wear a recording device to talk to Kevin Gonyea, and he replied, “I am not a rat,” then later asked for legal counsel as investigators questioned him, court records show.

Gordon Twiss also made a comment at his home when police went there to discuss the case with them. He told his girlfriend, “See you in 15 years” when he left with investigators, court records allege.

Both men gave videotaped interviews to investigators from the Sheriff’s Office and State Police, but the videos have not been publicly released.

Both Twisses pleaded not guilty to felony conspiracy counts on Friday and were released, pending further court action. David Twiss’ lawyer, Washington County Public Defender Michael Mercure, said his client was “offended” at the charges.

The Gonyeas lived with Mrs. Twiss and told police they found her dead in her bedroom after hearing what they thought was her falling out of bed. An autopsy, though, found that she had been choked to death, which Mr. Gonyea later admitted doing when pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Gonyea and his wife, Melissa Gonyea, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges for assisting her husband dispose of evidence, said they agreed to cooperate with others who they claim were involved in a plot to kill Mrs. Twiss. She had dementia, and family members were scheduled to meet with staff at an unspecified nursing home, court records show.



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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