Friday, September 3, 2010

Newark, NJ: Man accused of strangling ex-girlfriend had escaped from hospital

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
A Clifton man fled from a Newark hospital while under the supervision of parole officials — just hours before he allegedly strangled his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend on Monday and led police on a chase that ended in Ridgefield, authorities said Tuesday.

Parole officials issued a warrant for David Goodell’s arrest after he left The University Hospital, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said in a statement. Goodell had been taken to the hospital from a Newark halfway house at 11:50 p.m. Sunday night to be treated for a “purported seizure,” Molinelli said.

But by early Monday morning, Goodell had arranged a meeting with his ex-girlfriend, Viviana Tulli of Garfield, whom he allegedly strangled because she had told him she longer wanted a relationship, Molinelli said.

“I know that he was trying to reach out to her and there would be times when I don’t think she wanted to see him,” Molinelli said. “We’re pretty confident that he did this act based on the fact that she did not want to be with him.”

Goodell, 30, was charged with murder, eluding, assault by auto and two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer. He remained under guard and in stable condition at Hackensack University Medical Center on Tuesday, recovering from self-inflicted cuts to his wrists. His bail was set at $2 million.

Neal Buccino, a spokesman for the State Parole Board, confirmed Goodell was under the agency’s supervision Sunday night but said he could not provide details on how Goodell fled or how he was being supervised.

“We’re working with the prosecutor’s office on how he absconded,” Buccino said.

Molinelli said he did not yet know the details of Goodell’s supervision at University Hospital, part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

“I don’t think it’s a uniformed guard,” he said. “It might have been like a parole officer. I know they have guns.”

Goodell was staying at Logan Hall, a Newark residential center that works to help parolees reenter society and prevent future criminal activity, according to its website. Buccino said Tuesday night that he could not immediately provide details on Goodell’s parole conditions.

After fleeing the hospital, Goodell contacted Tulli and the two met at the Elmwood Park home of a mutual friend, Molinelli said.

Molinelli said Tulli and Goodell had dated for about a year leading up to his September imprisonment. He served five months for assaulting and threatening a previous girlfriend, court records show. But Tulli told Goodell at some point after his release from prison in February that she did not want to resume their relationship.

The exact timing of Tulli’s death was still unclear Tuesday, but Molinelli said autopsy results were expected Wednesday.

Witnesses called police Monday at 1:11 p.m. and reported seeing Goodell, bleeding and standing next to Tulli’s 2007 Nissan Versa in the parking lot of Ridgefield Park High School on Ozzie Nelson Drive. Witnesses said he had been standing in the lot for about an hour, Molinelli said.

Goodell fled in the Versa when police arrived, striking a cruiser and prompting a pursuit that ended when he rammed a second police car on a dead-end street in Ridgefield. Police found Tulli’s body in the passenger seat of the car. She had been strangled with a ligature, and Goodell had tried to kill himself by cutting his wrists with a box cutter, Molinelli said.

Ridgefield Park police spoke with high school administrators in the school’s parking lot Tuesday afternoon. School administrators declined to comment.

Family and friends gathered to grieve at Tullis’ Midland Avenue home in Garfield on Tuesday. Family members were too distraught to comment.

A man who identified himself as Viviana Tulli’s father was sitting outside with a family friend who said Tulli had a brother and sister.

She was “so young,” the friend said. “Be careful who your friends are.”

Goodell was released on parole in February from Northern State Prison in Newark after serving about five months for assaulting a police officer and making terroristic threats, according to the state Department of Corrections. Those charges came after a violent dispute with another girlfriend in 2008, according to court and police records.

Goodell was charged in October 2008 with burglary, robbery, aggravated assault and resisting arrest, according to court records. The charges stemmed from an attack and robbery of a Clifton woman, identified as Goodell’s girlfriend.

According to a police report filed in Clifton on Oct. 6, 2008, by victim Elizabeth Azzolina of 20 Kulik St., Goodell had been living at that address with her and her parents until a few days prior, when they threw him out.

He returned, according to Azzolina, demanding money from her. When she refused and asked him to leave, “he threw her to the ground and covered her mouth with his hands when she started to scream,” according to the report.

“Mr. Goodell then held her down by kneeling on her shoulders” and “threatened to choke and kill her,” the report says.

Azzolina said Goodell then took $120 cash from her room and left the scene, according to police reports.

Goodell was picked up by Clifton Police the next day as he was attempting to break into the Kulik Street home. Police charged him with resisting arrest and aggravated assault after he allegedly got into a scuffle with one of the arresting officers and later banged his head violently against the partition in the police car.

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