MONTGOMERY -- The sons of hospital CEO John Sheridan and his wife Joyce want a fresh investigation into their parents 2014 deaths now that their father's death has been labeled undetermined - reversed from suicide.
Mark Sheridan said the family is starting with Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson next week to formally request a new investigation.
"We're going to request that the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office or some other law enforcement agency reopen the investigation into our parents' death," said Mark Sheridan. "I'm hoping that sometime next week we'll be able to get a sit down with the Prosecutor Robertson.
On Friday, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced that the state's medical examiner has reversed a ruling that John Sheridan died as result of suicide - filing papers changing the former political tycoon's cause of death to undetermined.
Prosecutors had originally determined a distraught John Sheridan killed his wife, Joyce, before taking his own life.
"We feel somewhat vindicated," said Mark Sheridan. "We would still like to see the investigation reopened. We'd like to see the people who killed my parents caught. We don't believe this was a murder-suicide. We never believed that. I think we're one step closer to having this declared what it really is, which is a double homicide."
The couple's four sons - Mark, Matt, Tim and Dan - had maintained that their parents' death was a murder-suicide, submitting evidence they say contradicts the findings of the prosecutor's office. And they have been relentless in their efforts to clear their father's name and have the investigation into their deaths reopened.
In mid-December, the sons submitted an expert opinion in the form of an affidavit from nationally-known pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to the state Medical Examiner's Office and Attorney General's Office refuting the state's pathologist's findings.
Baden said the death appears to be a homicide, not a suicide, and the cause should be changed to "undetermined."
"I think that any fair and objective review of the facts and evidence made it clear you couldn't come out any other way. All the experts from across the country have said there is no way this should've been declared a murder-suicide," Mark Sheridan said.
Medical examiner changes manner of death
While changing the Sheridans manner of death to undetermined, the report stops short of declaring the couple's death a double homicide. And John Sheridan's cause of death remains "sharp force injuries and smoke inhalation."
The Sheridans were found dead on Sept, 28, 2014, in the master bedroom of their home. Police said the two suffered stab wounds and the bedroom was badly damaged by an intentionally set fire.
John Sheridan was accused of killing his wife and then setting the bedroom on fire to hide his crime. On March 27, 2015, the state medical examiner ruled the couple's death a murder-suicide, which their sons immediately disputed.
Their deaths sent shock waves through the state's political and social elite.
The Sheridans were known for their dedication to public service, especially John Sheridan, 72, who spent four decades in state government, serving as a deputy attorney general, assistant counsel to Gov. William T. Cahill and a lawyer for the state Turnpike Authority.
Last February, a group 200 prominent New Jersey residents, including three former governors, called for the investigation to be reopened.
Criticism of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office handling of the investigation led to the replacement of then-prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano in March with Gov. Chris Christie saying he had lost confidence in the office.
Veteran Somerset County Prosecutor's Office detective Jeffrey Scozzafava filed a lawsuit claiming that evidence was mishandled in the high-profile case. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
"We want everybody to know that we're thankful for all of the support we've received from our family and our friends," said Mark Sheridan. "There has been a huge outpouring of support for us and our parents and we really appreciate it."
Falzon conducted a "comprehensive review" of the case in response to the appeal filed by the Sheridan family and at the direction of a state appeals court, according to a statement from the Division of Criminal Justice.
That review prompted the medical examiner to file an amendment to John Sheridan's death certificate with the Department of Health.
Dave Hutchinson may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DHutch_SL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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