Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murders of David and Carol Keeffe: Suspect and Arrest

Property Dispute

John DeSisti
John DeSisti

While the double-murder case grabbed national attention, the investigation was slow to produce leads or answers despite the police attention being given to it. Although police had remained tight-lipped about the case at the time of the murders in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, it was eventually revealed that Carol Keeffe had for years been involved in a dispute with John J. DeSisti, her first cousin, about properties each owned across the state line in New York. Michael DeSisti, Carol's father, who lived in one of the houses on the Sayre Hill Road property until he later died in May 2007 at age 91, was John DeSisti's uncle. Michael DeSisti had owned an adjoining 84-acre parcel in New York which he had divided between Carol and John—seven acres for John, and the remaining 77 acres for Carol.

John initially built a house on his seven acres and later had several additional structures built on his land. Meanwhile, Carol's acreage remained undeveloped, but contained a sand and gravel pit along with considerable timber, making it valuable acreage.

John DeSisti later purchased additional land parcels that abutted Carol's property, but John did not have easy access to his additional lots due to the configuration of the property lines, which reportedly caused disagreements. Carol believed that John had encroached onto her land with his buildings and often complained about John's conduct regarding the alleged encroachments. John, on the other hand, insisted that he owned the land in question. Tensions between them intensified in the weeks prior to the murders in part because Carol had had some of the disputed land cleared and surveyed, according to official documents.

Aside from the land dispute between Carol and John, detectives did not find any evidence of problems or disagreements with others during the time leading up to the murders. The land dispute between Carol and John, ing the absence of other motives to commit murder, seemed an appropriate avenue of inquiry to pursue.

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