High Speed Chase of Murder Suspect on Interstate 95

Connecticut (November 9,2011) A high-speed chase on Interstate 95 south occurred Wednesday afternoon, involving a murder suspect and three police departments.  The chase and manhunt spanned more than four hours.  According to Westport police a stolen Honda Civic, driven by murder suspect, 35 year-old Thomas Gardner, ended with his arrest in Westport Connecticut. The high-speed chase began in Fairfield, with speeds in excess of 100 mph, with Gardner traveling on southbound 95 and police from Fairfield to Norwalk and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority involved.  Gardner exited I-95 southbound at exit 18 and hit a parked Bentley GT Convertible, owned by Roger Leifer, in downtown Westport. Shortly after hitting the Bentley the suspect crashed into a wooded area near the Westport Country Payhouse and Playhouse Condominiums and fled on foot.  According to Anthony Carafa , a former Marine, he witnessed the crash and said the car was traveling about 70mph,lost a tire and almost hit a woman leaving Winslow Park. A Code Red message warning was issued and K-9 units were utilized for the manhunt.  At around 4:30 Thomas Gardner of New Bedford, Mass was taken into custody at the Organic Market on Post Road after an employee recognized him from a flyer and called 911.

Gardner is a suspect in the murder of Mike Duarte, a 36-year-old carpenter from Massachusetts.  According to SouthCoastToday.com, the victim had been reported missing since Saturday by his longtime girlfriend, Sarah Varley.  The stolen Honda Civic that Gardner was driving was owned by Duarte.  Duarte’s body was found in a house,1058 Churchill St in New Bedford Massachusetts, which is owned by Thomas Gardner’s ex-wife but Gardner was living there.  Reports are unclear as to whether Duarte went to look at the house, which is for sale, to possibly buy the home or  to perform repairs to the property.  Mike Duarte and his girlfriend of 14 years have two daughters.


Thomas Gardner will be arraigned 11-14-2011 in Bridgeport Superior Court.  Gardner is currently being held on $1 million bond for extradition on an outstanding felony forgery warrant in Massachusetts along with first-degree larceny, interfering with an officer/resisting arrest.


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