Officials say 2-year-old Jovani Ligurgo was taken out of state by his father, John Ligurgo III, 43; both were later allegedly found dead of gunshot wounds.
Long Island, NY – June 6, 2018 – A extensive, multi-state manhunt launched Tuesday, June 5 after a Coram father had allegedly left the state with his 2 year-old son – and a hunting rifle – tragically ended Wednesday after two dead bodies matching their descriptions were discovered in Virginia, authorities say.
Police announced that they have discovered two deceased individuals in Rockbridge County matching the descriptions of John Ligurgo III, 43, and his son Jovani, 2, in a vehicle matching the description and license plate number – GAV4699 – of Ligurgo's Jeep Grand Cherokee. While officials are still waiting on an official confirmation of the identities of the bodies, it has been confirmed that both had gunshot wounds which are believed to be the cause of death. In addition, a hunting rifle was recovered from the vehicle, and Suffolk County Police have confirmed that the location in Virginia is considered to be a crime scene.
Jovani Ligurgo’s mother, Maria, dropped him off at his father’s condominium on Bretton Woods Drive in Coram at approximately 7 a.m. on June 5 for a visit, as per a family court visitation order; it is believed that the mother and father were currently involved in a custody dispute, according to reports. When the child, who resides with his mother in Smithtown, was not returned to his mother’s custody at the predetermined time – between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. – the mother notified police, officials say.
SCPD said that, as officers were responding to the mother’s 911 call, a fire was reported at Ligurgo’s Coram residence at appromixately 3:35 p.m.; police arriving at the scene discovered that a fire had been purposely set, igniting two beds within the residence, which was unoccupied at the time. After interviewing the mother, who had arrived at the scene of the fire later that evening, police launched a search for Ligurgo and his son, informing adjacent jurisdictions of a possible kidnapping incident. It was believed at the time that Ligurgo was in possession of a hunting rifle in his vehicle, police say.
Authorities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were alerted after surveillance cameras identified Ligurgo's Jeep Grand Cherokee as crossing the George Washington Bridge earlier that day, according to officials.
Suffolk County Authorities reported the incident to New York State Police and requested they issue an Amber Alert – an alert system activated when an abducted child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death – a request that was denied, as state officials noted that while Suffolk Police indicated that Ligurgo was allegedly in possession of a rifle, at the time it was not believed that he was a danger to his son. Ligurgo, who had recently lost his job, and had no criminal record nor any previous history of violence, and had already left the state by the time State Police were informed of the situation, officials say.
After a multi-state manhunt commenced and alerts sent out to law enforcement agencies, Suffolk Police were informed by a Virginia Sheriff's office that two dead bodies were found in a vehicle matching Ligurgo's in a Rockbridge County residential neighborhood.
As of press time, officials are still awaiting a positive identification of the two deceased individuals.