Failure to deport Norwich murder suspect under review

Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh, standing, addresses U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal about Syrian refugees at the end of his press conference Monday. Hopkins-Cavanaugh was accompanied by Wendy Hartling, seated, whose daughter was stabbed to death, allegedly by a Haitian in the country illegally.

Mark Pazniokas /

Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh, left, challenged Blumenthal last fall about immigration policies. Wendy Hartling is seated to her right.

Federal authorities have opened an inquiry into the failure of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport a Haitian man who was later charged with the murder of Casey Chadwick of Norwich, members of the Connecticut congressional delegation said Thursday.

Chadwick’s mother, Wendy Hartling, and others ambushed U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal at a press conference in Hartford last fall to demand that immigration authorities explain why Chadwick’s accused killer was freed after a prison term and not deported.

The offices of Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said they had requested an investigation by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security about the failure to execute an order to deport the murder defendant, Jean Jacques.

“We are pleased that the Office of the Inspector General has heeded our call and will now conduct a thorough, independent inquiry of this deeply troubling case. It is unacceptable that ICE failed to remove a convicted attempted murderer subject to a final deportation order— a measure that would have saved the life of Casey Chadwick,” they said.

Connecticut authorities detained Jacques for deportation, but Haiti declined to accept him, questioning whether he was a Haitian citizen.

“ICE’s responses thus far to our repeated inquiries into this case have been incomplete and unsatisfactory, and we hope that this independent inquiry will finally uncover the facts surrounding this tragedy, enabling reforms necessary to ensure that this never happens again,” Blumenthal, Murphy and Courtney said.

Last fall, Blumenthal was conducting a press conference about a call for labeling on genetically modified salmon when a Republican activist and radio host, Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh, stood to ask him about immigration policies. Hartling was with her.

“There are policies you support, sir, that are jeopardizing the safety of U.S. citizens in the United States,” said Hopkins-Cavanagh, the founder of the American Liberty Center. “Mrs. Hartling would like to speak to you about that.”

Blumenthal readily agreed: “I’d be happy to talk to her.”

The senator told her that he and others were pressing for answers.

Hopkins-Cavanagh, the Republican nominee for Courtney’s seat in 2014, then quickly pivoted to the issue of Syrian refugees, saying the Jacques case raised questions about the vetting of refugees.

‘Our country is not doing anything to stop the Islamic radical jihad movement that is a global movement, and we want our borders secured, sir,” she said. “We would like you to hold a press conference on those subjects. It is very important to us.”

The senator said that refugees undergo a multi-year examination before being accepted for resettlement in the U.S.