New Jersey’s attorney general is conducting his own shadow investigation into the shocking September deaths of a politically connected hospital CEO and his wife, ABC News has learned.
Word of the separate probe came late Tuesday in the wake of revelations that John and Joyce Sheridan had both been stabbed multiple times before their home was torched on Sept. 28.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman, said one person briefed on the case, has deployed a team from the State Police and state Division of Criminal Justice that is “providing a fresh set of eyes, additional manpower and expertise. This is a very complex investigation.”
“Several weeks ago, the state began providing the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office with assistance in the form of additional manpower and expertise. SCPO remains the lead investigative agency," said AG spokesman Paul Loriquet.
John Sheridan, a former state transportation commissioner, was a pillar of the New Jersey Republican establishment, having served as an adviser to every GOP governor in recent memory, including the current holder of the post, Chris Christie.
When he died, Sheridan, 72, was the president and CEO of Cooper Health System, the leading hospital operator in South Jersey.
Deemed an arson in the first days of the probe, the blaze was confined the master bedroom in the couple’s upscale home in Montgomery Township, about 40 miles southwest of Newark.
Originally, local authorities acted as though it were not complex at all. Officials suggested repeatedly the deaths were the result of an open-and-shut murder-homicide and that the public should have no concern at all.
On Oct. 2, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Jack Bennett told ABC News: “At this point, based upon facts and circumstances learned through this investigation, we are quite confident that there exists no threat to either the immediate neighborhood or to the local community.”
The prosecutor also said investigators had quickly ruled out the couple’s four sons, though he refused to explain that determination.
Then, officials went silent. Dozens of interviews yielded no information that might confirm the possibility of a murder-suicide and no other evidence was found to point detectives in that direction. The couple’s sons hired renowned pathologist Michael Baden to conduct his own investigation, though Baden has not released those results.
Late Tuesday, ABC News confirmed that John and Joyce Sheridan, 69, were stabbed multiple times with at least three different weapons prior to the fire being set and that only two of those weapons have been retrieved. The clear indication from the missing weapon is that a third party could have committed the crime and then left with key evidence.
The nature of the wounds to both Sheridans also appears ragged and unplanned and, when John Sheridan was found, he was lying beneath a large armoire that had been doused with gasoline. Those facts, again, suggest to investigators that someone besides either victim was involved.
The prosecutor’s office -– which has been criticized for its refusal to discuss the case -– again did not reply to questions from ABC News.
The Sheridans’ four sons issued a statement, saying "no one wants answers about our parents’ deaths more than us. Real answers will only come after a full and thorough investigation. ... We are committed to getting to the truth and that means we will not comment while the investigation is ongoing."