On Christmas Morning 1980, a resident at 20 Lancaster Road in West Hartford, Connecticut smelled smoke coming from an upstairs apartment at 6am. The neighbor found thirty-five year old Susan D’Angelo unresponsive on her couch. Her two children, Michael aged seven, and Beth aged three, were found in their rooms, unharmed and taken to safety.
Susan D’Angelo was declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. Police immediately viewed her death as suspicious.
D’Angelo whose maiden name was Glickman, was divorced and a former teacher in the West Hartford School System. At the time of her death, she was working as a reading consultant in the Hartford Public Schools.
At first, police thought she died of smoke inhalation. There was no fire in the house when Susan D’Angelo was found however, the Damper in the fireplace was closed. An autopsy later revealed that D’Angelo did not die of smoke inhalation and the Medical Examiner did not list a cause of death.
The West Hartford Police interviewed numerous individuals including her ex-husband Robert D’Angelo. However, he had a solid alibi in that he was visiting his parents in Brooklyn, New York at the time of her death.
A current boyfriend of hers was also questioned but an alibi ruled him out as a suspect.
However, Police did have a strong person of interest early on in the case, a male friend who was the last known person to see her alive.
With no cause of death listed on the autopsy report West Hartford Police also explored the possibility that her death as being accidental. A Duraflame log was found in the fireplace of D’Angelo’s residence. At the time, the logs were relatively new to the market and police suspected that poison gasses from the log could have incapacitated her and caused her to die.
In 1998, a different Medical Examiner, H. Wayne Carver reviewed her autopsy report and concluded that Susan D’Angelo was indeed a victim of homicide.
She was a victim of traumatic asphyxia and most likely was smothered.
With the classification of Da’Angelo’s death as a homicide, West Hartford Police tried tracking down the male friend who last saw D’Angelo alive. He had relocated out of the Hartford area shortly after her death and moved to several out of state areas in the following years. In December of 2001, West Hartford Police got bad news in that they learned that this person of interest had died several years prior to 2001.
Due to the fact that the Medical Examiner could not classify D’Angelo’s death a homicide until nearly two decades later, the West Hartford Police were limited legally in what they could do during the investigation.