Police Search Landfills for Missing N.J. Student

Authorities on Friday said the search for a missing college student from New Jersey had turned to two landfills in nearby Pennsylvania.

Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. said blood belonging to John Fiocco, who has been missing since the early morning of last Saturday, had been found both in and around a trash bin outside his dormitory at the College of New Jersey.

Authorities were investigating whether Fiocco had traveled down a dorm trash chute and into the bin. Its contents were compacted in nearby Trenton and then taken to one of two landfills in Bucks County, Pa.

Officials would not say whether Fiocco had definitely gone down the chute, whether he may have gone down it willingly, and refused to classify the case as a homicide. They would not say whether they believed Fiocco, 19, was still alive.

State Police Capt. Al Della Fave said the landfills were being searched because of the possibility Fiocco may be found there.

Fiocco, of Mantua Township, was last seen at 3 a.m. last Saturday in his dormitory, according to the county prosecutor's office. Friends said the art major from Mantua Township had been at an off-campus party and appeared to have been drunk but otherwise seemed fine. His roommate reported him missing about 36 hours later.

"This is a horrific event whatever the outcome," said R. Barbara Gitenstein, president of this school of about 7,000 students near Trenton.

Authorities this week removed students from Fiocco's dormitory for a sweep of the 10-story, 400-unit building. All the residents were being interviewed, officials said.

On Thursday, special cameras were sent down the dorm trash shoot, and authorities removed the garbage bin from outside the building.

State police said Fiocco's computer records were being searched, and if he had any bank or credit card accounts, they also would be searched.

Fiocco's father, John Fiocco Sr., took a break from searching Thursday night to pray at Mantua's Church of the Incarnation. He found 100 friends and neighbors already there.

"Just keep praying," Fiocco said. He acknowledged the family's crisis might have a tragic end, but said people "should forgive anybody who was involved" in the disappearance.

Fiocco Sr. also said he is worried for his wife.

"She's the most positive person in the world," he said. "I don't want her to change."

Fiocco graduated from Clearview Regional High School in Harrison Township, where he played football and was track team captain. Former classmates at the prayer vigil Thursday recalled him fondly.

"He was a very, very well-liked guy, and smart," Brian Nardone, who graduated a year earlier, told The Gloucester County Times for Friday's newspapers. "Nobody ever had a problem with him. He just had that charisma."