By MICHAEL MELIA
A rescue at sea led to new questions about an unsolved homicide, a pilot crashed a small plane into East Hartford’s center and a boat repairman living a quiet life in Sherman was revealed to be a fugitive on the lam for 48 years.
Connecticut had its share of criminal intrigue in 2016 along with a heavy dose of politics, the departure of General Electric, and a court ruling that excoriated the way public schools are run across the state.
A look at some of the state’s top stories of the year:
He was rescued from a life raft in September, but his mother, who accompanied him on the ill-fated fishing trip, was missing and presumed dead. Nathan Carman had barely returned to land when it emerged that he had been a suspect in the still-unsolved 2013 slaying of his wealthy grandfather. Carman has not been charged with anything and he has denied having anything to do with the shooting of his grandfather.
GENERAL ELECTRIC UNPLUGS
After a very public search for a new headquarters, the company, which had expressed displeasure with Connecticut’s tax policies, announced in January it was leaving its 42-year-old campus in Fairfield for Boston. The company said that as a research hub, Boston was a better fit for its aspirations in the digital age. The move dealt a blow to the pride and tax rolls of Fairfield, where the company employed 800 people. Sacred Heart University has said it will buy the old Fairfield headquarters.
SCHOOL FUNDING RULING
In the culmination of an 11-year-old lawsuit against the state, a judge in September ordered an overhaul of Connecticut’s public education system, citing huge gaps in test scores between rich towns and poor towns. Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher in Hartford blasted parts of the system as irrational and unconstitutional and ordered state officials to come up with reforms. Connecticut’s attorney general has appealed the ruling.
TRAINING FLIGHT CRASH
On a Tuesday afternoon in October, the twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca crashed on a street in East Hartford, killing the Jordanian student pilot and injuring his instructor. The National Transportation Safety Board said a preliminary investigation showed the crash was intentional, and an official familiar with the investigation said there had been an altercation inside the cockpit in what appeared to be a suicide attempt by the student pilot. The FBI has taken over the investigation and has not provided further details.
DEMOCRATS SWEEP CONGRESSIONAL RACES
In a year of GOP gains elsewhere, Connecticut stayed reliably blue, once again sending a delegation to Congress composed entirely of Democrats. U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty all won re-election in November, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal. The last Republican to serve in the state’s delegation was U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays in 2009.
NEW SANDY HOOK SCHOOL OPENS
In the fall, students returned to school at Sandy Hook for the first time since the schoolhouse massacre of 26 people in December 2012. Elementary school students from the district attended classes for nearly four years in neighboring Monroe before the opening of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School, a $50 million replacement built on the same property but not in the old footprint.
UCONN WOMEN WIN, AGAIN
The UConn women’s basketball team won an unprecedented fourth straight national championship in April, trouncing Syracuse 82-51 in the final game. With the win, Geno Auriemma passed UCLA’s John Wooden with his 11th national title. Despite the loss of three-time AP Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, UConn rose again to No. 1 as the hunt for a 12 title was underway this season.
For nearly half a century after escaping a Georgia prison, Robert Stackowitz lived under an assumed name as a boat repairman in Sherman. He was arrested in May after 48 years as a fugitive, having come to authorities’ attention by applying for Social Security benefits. He had escaped in 1968 after serving two years of a 17-year sentence for robbery. He successfully fought a request for extradition back to Georgia, citing his failing health, and he died in early December at age 71.
YALE BASKETBALL CAPTAIN ACCUSED
Jack Montague, the captain of Yale’s basketball team, was expelled in February after a university committee upheld a sexual assault complaint against him. The contested case gained national attention, coming amid the team’s run to a rare NCAA tournament appearance and debate over the systems put in place by colleges to address sexual misconduct allegations. Montague has argued the sexual encounter was consensual and accused the school in a lawsuit of coercing the accuser into cooperating in the complaint.
HARTFORD STADIUM WOES
Even before the season started for Hartford’s new minor league baseball team, the Yard Goats knew their stadium would not be ready for opening day. As construction delays and cost overruns mounted, the affiliate of the Colorado Rockies had to spend the entire season on the road. The 6,000-seat Dunkin’ Donuts Park is now supposed to host its home opener in April 2017.