TRENTON, N.J. – The parents of a 19-year-old student whose body was found in a Pennsylvania landfill after a frantic, four-week search filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday accusing his college of not securing its trash-compacting system.
The Superior Court lawsuit does not specify a damage amount in the death nearly two years ago of John Fiocco Jr., a freshman at The College of New Jersey just outside Trenton.
Fiocco was last seen alive early March 25, 2006, in a dorm room after returning from an off-campus party where friends said he had been drinking.
State police, brought in to investigate nearly three days after Fiocco's disappearance, discovered large amounts of blood around the trash compactor outside Wolfe Hall, the lawsuit said. By that time, the trash was on its way to the landfill in Bucks County, Pa., where the body was found.
"Based upon our investigation, we believe his death was a senseless tragedy which could have and should have been prevented," said Christine P. O'Hearn, a lawyer for Fiocco's parents, Susan and John Fiocco Sr.
College spokesman Matt Golden would not comment on the suit.
Authorities still don't know what happened to Fiocco, or whether his death was an accident or a crime.
State police spokesman Capt. Al Della Fave said the doors to the trash compactor room were unlocked the night Fiocco disappeared but exactly what happened to Fiocco remains a mystery. A detective is still assigned to the case, he said.
Glenn Zeitz, another lawyer for the Fiocco family, said an electronic eye on the compactor would activate the device — and its 2,000 pounds of pressure — when the trash reached a certain level in the removable garbage bin. A human body falling in could have triggered the compactor, he said.
The parents' said in the suit that the college is at fault for their son's death because the inside and outside doors of the trash compactor room were unlocked the night their son disappeared.
The suit, which also targets to-be-determined companies and workers involved with the trash system, said the door on the compactor and the hinged lids on top of the trash container also weren't locked.