A neighbor has been charged in the brutal slaying of a Rockville, Maryland, couple in their home earlier this month.
Scott M. Tomaszewski, 31, was taken into custody on a fugitive from justice warrant in Juneau, Alaska, about 12 p.m. ET Saturday. He is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and burglary, Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said Sunday.
Police said Tomaszewski lives a couple of doors down from the home of Richard Louis Vilardo, 65, and Julianne "Jody" Vilardo, 67. The couple was found dead in their pajamas at their home in the 13200 block of Ridge Drive after they didn't show up for Mother's Day plans with other members of their family.
Investigators said Tomaszewski was on a cruise with his parents and a sibling along the Pacific Coast and was arrested when the ship arrived at port in Juneau.
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They said he confessed to the killings and had blood-soaked money in his wallet at the time of his arrest. The blood on the cash will be analyzed to determine if it is his -- or the Vilardos'.
Tomaszewski's lawyer said he will try to have that confession thrown out. "Obviously, we have to look at all of the surrounding circumstances of that statement, whether he was Mirandized, what his condition was, what his mental status was at the time of the statement," said John Kudel. "All of that has to be looked into, and right now I don't know any of that."
Investigators said they started looking at Tomaszewski after examining two other burglary cases in the neighborhood, including one at the Vilardo home from 17 years ago that Tomaszewski helped police solve.
The suspect was a teen at the time and house-sat for the Vilardo family.
In 1998, Thomazewski was housesitting at the Vilardo's home when there was a burglary. Thomaszewski supplied information at the time that helped police.
Then, in April, there was a burglary across the street. Detectives discovered that Thomaziewski had pawned items stolen in that burglary.
"That 17-year-old connection ultimately led us to Scott Tomaszewski," Manger said during a news conference Sunday.
Neighbors were stunned that one of their own was the suspect in the brutal crime. Police had called it one of the most violent crime scenes they'd encountered in recent memory.
"The police did such a good job finding him," said neighbor Margo Cohen. "Total shock. Total shock. My heart just goes out to both families."
Police did not discuss a motive for the killings. Tomaszewski is currently being held in Alaska and awaiting extradition back to Maryland.
"We believe that he broke into the house," Manger said. "We don't know at this point what his intentions were, but we have evidence that there was a burglary."
The Vilardo family did not attend the police press conference. They did issue a statement that was read by police:
"We would like to acknowledge and thank Sgt. Larry Haley and Det. Carvajal and their team with the Montgomery County Police Department for their remarkable detective work which took them from Rockville, Maryland all the way to Juneau, Alaska. They have worked tirelessly, around-the-clock, since this horrific crime was reported last Sunday and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts. We would also like to thank the Statue's Attorney for Montgomery County, John McCarthy, who has worked hand-in-glove with the police department in this matter to make sure that the perpetrator is brought to justice. For the past week, we have known the where, the when and the how; now we know who. And, while we may never truly understand why, as a result of the work of the police department and the prosecutors' office, we can take the first step on the long road to healing. We thank them again for their commitment to help bring us closure."
Police have said previously that they believe the weapon was a knife or other sharp instrument and that the suspect may have gotten in through a window.
The body of Julianne Vilardo was found inside the couple's home; the body of Richard Vilardo was found out back.
The Vilardos were known for their work at the Children's Inn at NIH, a place for sick children participating in clinical trials. They had volunteered for more than 15 years and played a particularly important role four years ago when they volunteered to help raise funds for the renovation of The Inn's kitchens and dining areas, according to a statement from the Children's Inn.
"Judy and Dick were the most kind and generous people, always giving of their time and resources," said Jennie Lucca, CEO of The Children's Inn.
One of Richard Vilardo's business partners, Steven Fairbanks, said he was heartbroken by the news.
"Dick was one of the greatest gentlemen I ever met," he wrote in an email. "He and Jodi were the perfect couple. They will be sorely missed."
Another business partner, Ron Franklin, said he and Vilardo founded Pinnacle Hotel Management together and had been friends for more than 35 years.
"Dick was a wonderful person, and always had his priorities right ... family, friends and Pinnacle in that order," Franklin wrote in an email. "Steve and I will miss both he and Jody in many ways."
Franklin said the couple had "two great children." They also had two grandchildren.