It was 30 years ago, on Jan. 29, 1991, that Bernards Township was rocked by the murder of Dawn and Richard Heikkila by their 20 year old adopted son, Matthew. He had ambushed his parents when they came home, shooting them in the back of their heads with a shotgun; police said the shells had “Mom” and “Mom and Dad” written on them.

He also kidnapped his girlfriend, handcuffing her and forcing her to spend the night in the house with his dead parents. He then fled the country; he was apprehended in Jamaica in February with his father’s checkbook in his possession. He was brought back to New Jersey and was put on trial in 1992 on charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery, making terroristic threats and weapons charges.

During the four week trial, the defense argued that Heikkila suffered from “adopted child syndrome” and was suffering a psychotic episode during the killings. That gambit didn’t work as the prosecution showed that he had coldly planned the murders and he was convicted on all counts. He was sentenced to consecutive 30 prison terms with no chance of parole until he turns 80, with Judge Michael Imbriani scolding him at sentencing “They wanted you to cease acting like a spoiled child, to stop mooching off of their hard-earned money and to start standing on your own two feet as an adult,″ the judge said. ″You showed your appreciation by murdering them.″ He was sent to Trenton State Prison where he will stay until at least 2051.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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