NEWARK, N.J. - For now, the parents of a College of New Jersey freshman who died in 2006 can't see police investigative records of the death of their 19-year-old son, whose body was found in a Bucks County landfill.
A state judge denied an effort yesterday by the parents of John Fiocco Jr. to see the records, saying the integrity of an open criminal investigation must be protected.
However, Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg said the family, of Mantua, could try again later.
The family maintains that Fiocco died accidentally and sought state police reports for use in their lawsuit against the College of New Jersey.
The Fioccos then sued state police, which countered that it was still investigating the death of the student, who was last seen alive in a Ewing dormitory early on March 25, 2006, after returning from an off-campus party where friends said he had been drinking.
State police, who were brought in to investigate nearly three days later, discovered large amounts of Fiocco's blood around the dorm's trash compactor. By then, the trash was on its way to a landfill in Tullytown. Authorities spent weeks searching before discovering his body on April 25, 2006.
The judge ordered the state police to send her, under seal, details of what "criminal investigative activities" are underway, including whether anyone is under surveillance. Feinberg also wants an estimate of how long the investigation will continue.
A lawyer for the family, Glenn A. Zeitz, said yesterday, "I'm cautiously optimistic that when the facts continue to come out . . . it will become clear that the investigation, at least at this point, is no longer an ongoing criminal investigation."
The state Attorney General's Office, which represents the state police, is reviewing the decision, spokesman Lee Moore said.
Authorities have been unable to say how Fiocco got into the trash bin. They looked into the possibility that he fell down the dorm trash chute but have said they found no evidence to support that theory.
The family's lawsuit accuses the college of not securing its trash-compacting system.