John and Joyce Sheridan Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them? – John Sheridan, a former New Jersey Transportation Commissioner and health-care executive, and his wife Joyce were found dead at their Skillman home on September 28, 2014. After putting out a fire in the house’s master bedroom, firefighters discovered their remains. The case was initially thought to be a murder-suicide by the Somerset County prosecutor’s office, as both had sustained stab wounds that had killed them.
In a public report six months later, prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano made that decision official. The Sheridans’ sons, led by Mark, who was the state’s Republican Party’s chief lawyer at the time, had opposed that even before it was released. They felt their parents were slain by an intruder who lit the fire in an attempt to destroy evidence, based on a second autopsy performed by Michael Baden, who prepared his own report.
The Sheridan sons promised to have the decision reversed, and they used their political clout to accomplish so. Two hundred notable state residents submitted an open letter to newly appointed state medical examiner Andrew Falzon in 2016 supporting a revision in the finding, including three former governors and two former state attorneys general. Falzon officially altered John Sheridan’s death from suicide to undetermined in 2017.
Their attempts to overturn the decision uncovered a number of flaws in the state’s medical examiner system in general and the inquiry into the Sheridans’ deaths in particular. The job had been empty for six years prior to Falzon’s appointment, following the resignation of a predecessor who resigned out of discontent with the system and was followed by another predecessor who quit for the same reason.
The pathologist who did the autopsies on the Sheridans was not board-certified, had resigned from a previous job for failing to notify police about a revised autopsy conclusion, and may have succumbed to prosecutor’s office pressure. One of the detectives who had been involved in the inquiry initially filed a whistleblower action, which was subsequently dropped, alleging retaliation after he complained about how evidence relevant to the case was mismanaged or destroyed.
‘Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery,’ a podcast produced by WNYC Radio, goes into this case. So, if you’re curious about what transpired, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
Recommended: Where Are John and Joyce Sheridan’s Sons Now?
What Caused John and Joyce Sheridan’s Death?
At the time of his death, John Sheridan had a number of political connections. During the early 1980s, he served as the transportation commissioner of New Jersey, where he was influential in the creation of the NJ Transit System. John joined the Cooper Hospital management team in Camden, New Jersey, in 2005. The 72-year-old was the hospital’s CEO at the time of the incident. For over 47 years, John had been married to Joyce, a 69-year-old retired high-school teacher.
Authorities arrived at the Sheridans’ home in the early morning hours of September 28, 2014, to find smoke billowing from the master bedroom. They discovered John and Joyce’s bodies face up when the flames were quenched. John was discovered with an armoire draped over him at the foot of the bed, while his wife was discovered to the left of the bed. The fire was determined to have been intentionally started on the floor with gasoline.
Joyce had been stabbed around 12 times, with most of the wounds on her face, according to an autopsy. Her aorta was penetrated by one stab wound to the chest; she had defensive wounds on her arms and was burned. John had stab wounds to his neck and body, one of which caused the right jugular vein to perforate. John was seen inhaling smoke, indicating that he was still alive when the fire started.
The case was first considered a murder-suicide by the authorities, who said John killed his wife before killing himself. The medical examiner believed John’s wounds were hesitation cuts because there was no forcible entrance at the scene. The knife that killed Joyce was confirmed to be located in the bedroom, but the weapon that caused John’s wounds was never found.
A can of gasoline was also discovered in the bedroom, which had been taken up from the basement. However, in January 2017, authorities changed John’s death cause from suicide to uncertain.
Who Killed John and Joyce Sheridan and What was the Reason?
Many of the doors in the house were unlocked. Items of value in the house, including roughly $950 on the nightstand, were left undisturbed. In addition, no one in the neighbourhood had seen anything unusual around the time of the incident. The carving knife, as well as a serrated bread knife, were discovered in the bedroom, but the latter could not have caused John’s injuries.
The family, on the other hand, did not agree with the murder-suicide verdict. The four boys of, John and Joyce, were passionate about it and set out to discover solutions. The phone records and emails of the marriage revealed no extramarital affairs or financial problems. The authorities’ report merely noted John being agitated over a work-related issue, but that was it.
The family then pursued legal action to have John’s death certificate amended. They recruited a pathologist to review the case and the autopsies once more. Michael Baden indicated in June 2016 that the evidence pointed to it being a double murder, not a murder-suicide, as previously thought. He suspected that an intruder wearing gloves entered the house with the intent of injuring or robbing the Sheridans.
Furthermore, Michael stated that unknown male DNA was found on one of the blades, as well as blood spatter near the master bedroom, indicating an attack. The cuts on John’s body were deep and thin, not superficial and self-inflicted as the authorities had stated.
Not only that, but an insurance agent discovered a fire poker in the bathroom, prompting Michael to speculate that the blunt force injuries John had were caused by the fire poker rather than the armoire falling on him.
John had no suicidal tendencies before the occurrence, and he didn’t have Joyce’s blood on him, making him unlikely to be the murderer. A detective who worked on the investigation said in May 2016 that the prosecutor’s office mismanaged evidence. He said that evidence from the bedroom was improperly stored and that he witnessed one of the cops tossing evidence into a dumpster.
In January 2017, the medical examiner’s office reversed its previous decision and declared John’s death to be uncertain. However, the cause of death remained the same: a mix of sharp force injuries and smoke inhalation. Authorities discovered another case in early 2022, in which Sean Caddle, a political strategist, hired two individuals to assassinate Michael Galdieri, one of his employees.
In his apartment, which was on fire, Michael was also stabbed to death. In light of this, one of the sons, Mark Sheridan, requested that the authorities investigate the murders of his parents.
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