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Friday, April 8, 2016

Morbid Mailbag: John Fiocco

Morbid Mailbag is a series where I post interesting stories or details that readers send me.  They usually want anonymity for privacy reasons.  I cannot independently verify the veracity of these statements.

My original post on John Fiocco's death

Here's a message I received on the John Fiocco case:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

 Hey! I just stumbled across your post on John Fiocco and wanted to reach out. I didn't want to just reply, because I'm not interested in making it easy for someone to figure out my "real life" identity.

So I went to TCNJ, not at the time John was there, but soon after. I was also a resident of that dorm for 4 years, 1 as a freshman (eerily enough, I lived in his old room) and for 3 years as an RA (we called them CAs).

So I read the report you posted about the layout of the basement, and there's some misleading info there. So yeah, you'd either walk or take the elevator to the first floor and then take the stairs down to the basement, because the elevators are keyed to NOT go down to the basement after a certain time of night. You walk down these stairs, which are well lit and not sketchy at all.

The basement is not a basement in the traditional sense. You go down the stairs into a brightly lit lobby/foyer area. There's a big cafeteria to the left, which serves late night junk food. I can't remember what time they closed, actually- but you should be able to look that up online, it's called T-Dubs. Around 3 I think?

Immediately after going down the stairs, T dubs is right in front of you, to the right are the elevators, and right across from the elevators are a few sets of doors. They're locked, and I think it's a small office and a boiler room. You'd have to go through at least one set of doors to get into the hallway where you'd access the trash room.

During the day, maintenance for the whole campus uses that hallway for various things (storage, processing work orders, whatever). Students don't go into that hallway, ever. Hardly anybody even knows there's anything back there. Students don't "know" where the compactor room is, and there's no way to get through those fire doors (the locked ones I mentioned) into the hallway, and then you'd have to get the trash room unlocked as well. In FOUR YEARS living in that dorm, as a CA who had access to the building was required to patrol is 3x/night while on "duty," I never once went down there, nor did I ever see a student go in there. Ever. I have accidentally thrown things away, and one of my residents accidentally threw away a $200 birthday card- not once was there a consideration of "oh, I'll go down to the trash compactor room and get it!" It's just not a thing that anyone in their right mind would do.

The only other bit of information about the trash room I can provide is that there's access from the outside of the building, as well. It's basically a big garage door, and you'd need a key to unlock it. I don't know if there was a keypad or anything, but I think not. Again, never once did I see anybody messing around trying to get that door open.

Maybe five feet away from the section with the elevators and fire doors is a big glass sliding door, which has access to the outside. You have to swipe using your ID card to get in, BUT (and the reports are right about this), students do sometimes prop those doors open. Not so much as night, that's not common, but it's possible. But sometimes on a nice day, or if they're bringing in laundry and stuff from the car, whatever. Normally the desk staff and CAs are supposed to go down to check those doors, but if it was after midnight, the CAs wouldn't have, and if it was after 2, the desk staff (DAs) would've been gone too. So it's definitely possible that a student came in after 2am and propped the door open, for whatever reason (maybe someone lost their ID and a friend blocked the door open for them, or a girlfriend/boyfriend was coming in late, IDK). Or even if people were coming in from a party and someone just followed them in, it's not like the students would've been like "woah! Do you live here?" It's a big dorm, people wouldn't stop to question some one.

There is physically no way, absolutely no way in hell that he went down the chute itself from the 4th floor. First, you have to pull open this heavy metal door. The room that contains the chute is really small, you couldn't fit 2 people in it. Second, there's a recycling bin in that room, which is ALWAYS overflowing, I'm talking bags of recycling all over the floor. From the hallway/door, you can lean over and pull open the chute, and shove your stuff in. For frame of reference, you can't fit a regular size garbage bag or even a pizza box down the chute, it just won't fit. Grocery bags with garbage are all you can really fit down there. I distinctly remember that it's smaller than a pizza box, even when you sort of crush it/try to jam it down, because there was usually a pile of pizza boxes on the floor waiting for the cleaners. So, really, there is NO WAY that this tall, broad guy could maneuver into the room, get the chute door open (it pulls out into the room, not pushing into the chute), get up/over the chute door and into the chute itself. Plus, this garbage room is literally in the middle of the hallway, within eyesight of the men's bathroom and right next door to a single room (I think at that time, the singles were actually the CA's room, although I could be mistaken), and the other CA's room was maybe 10 feet away, just around the corner. He probably would've knocked things over, made noise, and generally woke people up & pissed off his CAs.

The way this dorm is set up, there's no way someone wouldn't have heard him trying to get in the chute. The doors are heavy and loud and slam shut. The dorm is like an angular U shape, and sound echoes like you wouldn't believe. At 3 am, I'd expect it to be pretty quiet. There's always some rowdiness when people are getting home after the parties, but it settles down around 1:30.

It's very strange, and sad, the whole thing. The only reason I knew about John Fiocco is because I was a CA, and because my boss would occasionally point to a specific security measure and say "that's because of John Fiocco," but really, nothing much changed between his death and when I lived there. The front desk staff still only stayed til 2. They were supposed to be stricter about signing people in between 8 p-2 a, but some were more lax than others. Doors were still propped open once in a while. It's honestly like it never even happened. If it wasn't for my weird fascination with morbid things, and this weird connection I had to him (living in his old room), I wouldn't have known.

Also, a random note about the trash chute I just remembered-- there are sprinklers INSIDE the chute. It's some weird fire safety code, I believe. It's basically so that if something on fire is tossed in there, the fire won't shoot up to the other floors thru the chute. But the sprinklers can also be triggered if something too big is shoved down there. That wasn't really a problem generally, because the opening to the chuteis so small that you couldn't get much down there. If a BODY had miraculously been fitted into there, the sprinklers probably would've been triggered.

My response: 

Thanks so much for all the information. Do you think John would've gone to the basement to retrieve something from the dumpster?...

Anonymous' response:

No, I don't think he would've gone downstairs, but of course it's a possibility...

Also, there was talk about the "hardcore drug scene" in the area. Completely ridiculous. The worst that TCNJ students get into is Molly or ecstasy at parties, which wasn't even big on the scene in 2006. Weed is common, but NOBODY goes into Trenton for it. The "dealers" are suburban white boys who get it through a friend of a friend, and who "sell" to their fraternity brothers. TCNJ is in Ewing, not Trenton. Ewing is very suburban, tons of students live off campus, and a lot of people in the community work for TCNJ is some capacity. There's no downtown- the biggest "party spot" in Ewing is Firkins, a sort of dive bar. Trenton is only a few miles away, yeah, but students don't go there. They might if they had an internship in downtown Trenton, but that's a decent area. Please believe that the huge majority of TCNJ students are sheltered white kids who would be scared shitless to go to the bad parts of Trenton.

What's interesting about TCNJ is that we saw a lot more mental health crises than you'd expect. I had multiple depressed/suicidal students, I had one who took medical leave because he had a psychotic break from recently developed bipolar.  I know of two students who killed themselves during my tenure at TCNJ.  Kids that go to TCNJ tend to be smart, highly motivated people, and with that comes a lot of pressure and expectations.

So the thought of a mentally ill former student getting in (he would've known the timing of student staff, known how to get in without an ID)... That's not absurd. I don't know how he would've got John into the compactor, though. Would a mentally ill person be able to come up with that plan? He'd have to be lucky that the doors were unlocked (unless, of course, they weren't as consistently locked back then as they were during my time), then hoist him in. That would be a lot of dead weight. I would think at least two people would be necessary.

Honestly, I don't know what happened. It just does not make any sense to me that he would go into that room. But I also don't see how someone could've forced him in. I've also heard the possibility there was a fight and John was accidentally killed, and one/two guys brought him downstairs already dead. But then again, I wonder how NOBODY would have noticed. These dorms are so echo-y, an altercation in the stairwells would've been very easily heard. Perhaps he voluntarily went outside (to avoid waking neighbors/CAs?) but he was accidentally killed, and the other guy(s) got lucky that the outside garage door access was open (OR it was a different setup at that time).

It's sad. By all accounts he was a decent person, but hardly anybody knows his name or even knows what happened.

I just found this article from Rider University [a college very close to TCNJ] which mentions that they made no policy changes as a result of John's death.  The only policy that changed was 24-hour swipe card access, instead of nighttime only swipe card access (and that was a result of reporters sneaking into the dorm to interview students).  All this means that I think there were no changes to the compactor room setup as I described it - it would've been the same as when John was there.

...So I just read some of the court documents, and I wish I could read the full affidavit from Michael Merkowsky. He said that the exterior door was routinely left open, which is really surprising to me because I never once saw them open. It seems very reasonable though that after an incident like this, staff for the building would've been diligent about locking up. If it is the case that the exterior doors were open, and that the door into the compactor itself was unlocked as well, then this incident makes more sense.

I really only see two possibilities, after thinking about this a lot today.

1) John accidentally threw something out, and went downstairs/outside to retrieve it from the compactor.

2) He happened to run into this intruder outside. Maybe he went outside for fresh air, or a smoke. The intruder blitzed/jumped out at him, and either knocked him unconscious or killed him. Intruder dragged him to compactor from outside. I don't think it would be feasible for someone to attack John on the 4th floor, get him through the fire doors and into the elevator, down to the lobby, around the corner and down a long flight of stairs, across another lobby and 20 feet to the trash room.

1 comment:

  1. John Anothy Fiocco Jr. was killed by someone he knew , and clues surrounding the off campus party led to his death, after John got back to the TCNJ the killers plans was going into action after they had gotten him very drunk , and his spirit asked me to call him Johnny and said that he liked me, as family and I was quiet and just listen with my mind as his spirit speak ,and John said that he holds his own , and his spirit let out a soft laugh as my insight was on high point, and I was thinking this guy must can kick ass ,and being white do not matter , but the only thing is that he can but in work skills ,to fight.I now see that coward's caught John from behind as he use the toilet to urine ,after he left the door he was in to use the bathroom , what a shame to do this evil shit to him, a hard blow to his head ,with a blunt silver object , could of been a 50 pound weight and his blood started to drip ,and my insight could see a white long towel place on his open wound , and John body being dragged in a long narrow hall towards a window not very large , but some how ,the killers push him out , and put him in a Plastic Storage Container, with a lid as he lay in it,in the back of a small jeep , as they drove by the Two Lakes and into PA. they made a stop at a small house , near a wide open field, with a very high silver fence , and my insight was deep on this , like why stop here and then I had to feel the wind and touch it and see it with my mind and let my spirit flow into the Super Natural as I tell John soul that it Hurts me so Much for you to tell and show me all the evil they did to you ,and wanted your body to rot as they hope no clues would be found on however you died , which was so very evil !!!