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Body camera

Kevin and Melissa Gonyea speak with Washington County Sheriff’s Officers on July 9 during the investigation into 95-year-old Leona Twiss’ death.

The woman who is accused of aiding her husband after he killed his grandmother told police that she believed at least two other family members were part of the plan to kill 95-year-old Leona Twiss, court records show.

Melissa Gonyea told Washington County sheriff’s officers and State Police that she did not believe her husband, Kevin L. Gonyea, acted alone in killing Twiss, pointing the finger at two other relatives she believe plotted with him. The Post-Star is not releasing their names, as they have not been charged and it did not appear they would be.

“They were all a part of it. I never thought Kevin would do it,” Melissa Gonyea told police in one video. “He loved his grandma.”

Kevin Gonyea, 50, faces seven charges that include second-degree murder and lesser counts in connection with the July 9 death of Twiss in her West Fort Ann home. Court records show she died of strangulation, and police believe he choked her with a towel.

Melissa Gonyea faces felony charges of tampering with physical evidence, hindering prosecution and counts related to alleged welfare fraud.

Her statements include allegations that one relative told her husband how to kill Twiss, and another gave him the “go ahead.”

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said Monday he had no comment on the evidence in the case.

Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said Melissa Gonyea’s allegations of others being involved were investigated, but he would not comment further.

“We are looking at everything we have been made aware of,” he said.

The Gonyeas’ videotaped statements were among the new information filed by the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, which included written statements from the day Twiss died and body camera videos of police officer interactions with the couple and other witnesses.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office had sought to seal the information, as has become routine procedure in recent years for local prosecutors in serious criminal cases such as homicides, after the Gonyeas were arraigned last month.

But at the request of The Post-Star, Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan reviewed the prosecutor’s motion and found that the legal threshold to seal the evidence had not been met.

Hours of videos of police questioning the Gonyeas are included among the evidence. They show Mr. Gonyea saying he would never hurt his grandmother and was not responsible for the death. But his wife said he walked out of Twiss’ bedroom crying with a towel and said “It’s done” and told her to “get rid of it.”

The videos that were filed in court included Melissa Gonyea taking police to a remote section of Michigan Lane in West Fort Ann to recover a white towel, which was found down an embankment.

Court records include written statements from the Gonyeas, in which they describe the events of the night Twiss died.

Kevin Gonyea said Twiss seemed “out of it” earlier in the night and had taken medication. The couple told police they heard a “thump” that night around 10:45 and thought she fell out of bed before they found her dead in her bed minutes later, blood coming from her nose.

“She always falls out of bed,” Kevin Gonyea tells officers who responded to the home, the encounter videotaped by the officer’s body camera. “She has a very bad tendency of falling.”

Gonyea’s lawyer, Greg Teresi, has asked McKeighan for permission to hire a private investigator in part to look at the possibility of other suspects being involved in the death.

Teresi could not be reached Monday.

Kevin Gonyea, 50, and his 35-year-old wife had moved to Fort Ann from Florida last summer to care for Twiss and her husband, who died of natural causes last November.

Although police initially hypothesized the killing may have been a “mercy” killing, because Twiss had dementia and was likely headed to a nursing home, Jordan said he believed Kevin Gonyea wanted to return to Florida. Relatives of Twiss said her dementia was not bad, and that she was very active for her age.

Both Gonyeas have pleaded not guilty to the indictments against them and are being held in Washington County Jail pending further court action. They are due back before McKeighan on Nov. 17.

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reporter

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

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