MILFORD -- A 1˝-inch-wide piece of black vinyl tape.
It was a small piece of evidence, but it played a major role in leading police to arrest an angry ex-boyfriend of 26-year-old Alexandra Ducsay on a murder charge Wednesday, more than six years after she was found beaten to death in the basement of her Milford home.
The tape, which police said was found stuck to Ducsay's cheek, was a rare brand, distributed locally only by a New London company; it was not available in outlet stores or online. Police learned the specific type of tape -- Permacel Model P-34 -- was sold to just three in-state companies. Days after Ducsay's May 19, 2006, murder, a roll of it was found in the home of the key suspect.
That suspect -- Matthew Pugh, 40, of Hamden, Ducsay's ex-boyfriend and an employee of one of those three companies -- has been charged with the murder of Ducsay, an aspiring actor and dancer. Already incarcerated on separate assault and robbery charges, Pugh's bond was raised to $2 million. He was also charged with first-degree burglary. He is being held at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown.
Matthew Ducsay, Alexandra's brother, said after Pugh's arraignment Wednesday afternoon in Milford Superior Court that he and his family are pleased with developments in the case.
"Justice for Zan is long overdue," Ducsay said. "We hope that this individual is punished to the full extent of the law."
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Pugh began dating Ducsay when she was 16, with their relationship ending when he was sent to prison on drug charges. While in prison, Ducsay accused Pugh of threatening to harm her. He was released in 2004, two years before Ducsay was killed, and according to the arrest affidavit, he began stalking Ducsay and continued to harass and threaten her.
Relatives have maintained all along that someone Ducsay knew killed her, and that they knew who that person was.
On Thursday, all Matthew Ducsay would say is (Pugh) is "an individual known to us, we are familiar with him," but would not elaborate.
Sitting in court behind his sister's accused killer was difficult, Matthew Ducsay said, adding his family was notified last week that a suspect would be arrested in her murder.
Milford Police Chief Keith Mello said at a news conference at police headquarters that his detective bureau, assisted by the cold case unit of the Chief State's Attorney's Office, was able to develop information that led to the arrest.
"It has been a long and difficult six years for the Ducsay family," Mello said. "This is the first step, an important step. I hope that in some way this arrest today brings them some solace."
The case began May 19, 2006, when Ducsay's mother, Linda, found her daughter's beaten body in the basement of their 3 Boothbay St. home that afternoon.
Police said in the affidavit the "brutal nature of the crime and the injuries to the victim, is indicative of a crime of passion," and said it "shows a familiarity and emotional nexus between the victim and her killer."
Detectives followed multiple leads, including looking into two other men identified as suspects by informants, but over the course of the six years between the murder and arrest, the case centered on Pugh,
Pugh was interviewed several times by police and consistently denied any involvement in the crime.
Ducsay's mother, Linda, described the breakup of her daughter and Pugh as "less than amicable," and said Pugh would "regularly harass and threaten Alexandra."
Alexandra Ducsay filed a harassment complaint against Pugh in 2004, telling state Department of Corrections officials that he had threatened to release compromising photos of her to ruin her reputation. Pugh had also threatened to harm her mother and brother, Ducsay wrote in her Jan. 23, 2004, letter.
In the letter Pugh said "if you don't start making time for me and making this bid comfortable for me until I get out, you're gonna regret you ever met me." He also threatened to "make (Ducsay's) life a living hell."
According to the DOC, Pugh was disciplined after an investigation, but no other details were immediately available.
In 2005, Pugh began telling his cousin he was thinking of killing Ducsay, according to the affidavit.
Anthony Pugh said his cousin, who "has a temper and flies off the handle," wanted to get even with Ducsay because she had taken a car from him and then ended their relationship, but kept the car. Pugh said Matthew was stalking Ducsay, sitting outside her house at least once a week to "see where she was going and with whom."
The cousins had just started working at Chromalloy, a Windsor-based aircraft turbine repair company. Anthony Pugh told police his cousin told him he was "taking tape, smocks, boot covers and gloves," to use in the crime, so he wouldn't leave behind DNA.
Detectives learned Chromalloy was one of three companies in the state to purchase the vinyl tape found on Ducsay's cheek. On May 26, 2006, police served a search warrant at Pugh's Hamden home. Police found a roll of black Parmacel tape in Pugh's kitchen that was the same type of tape found on Ducsay's cheek and used by Chromalloy, the affidavit states.
Police also learned through DNA testing that blood likely belonging to Pugh was found in Ducsay's home.
During interviews, Pugh told police that he left work early on the day of Ducsay's death and went to his home in Hamden. But police said a search of phone records shows Pugh made calls consistent with traveling from the Windsor company to Milford, then made at least one call from an area near Ducsay's house, according to the affidavit.
Ducsay, according to her family, spent the morning working out at a Stratford gym, then returned to her Boothbay Street home. She was killed sometime between 12:34 and 4:30 p.m., police said.
"Zandra always thought that she could take care of herself," her father, John, said last year. "But the guy beat her with a baseball bat -- how was she supposed to deal with that?"
Ducsay was aiming for a career in show business and often auditioned in New York City for acting parts and roles as a dancer in music videos, her family said. She landed a small role on "Law & Order" during her acting career. In her memory, Ducsay's brothers, Erik and Matthew, distributed toys to children in Bridgeport and New Haven with help from People's United Bank, where Ducsay worked as an analyst.
In the years after her death, as police waited for DNA testing and continued to build a case against Pugh, Ducsay, a Jonathan Law High School and Albertus Magnus College graduate, was featured in a deck of playing cards distributed to inmates in the state's prison in hopes to leading to clues in cold cases. A $50,000 reward, arranged by State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor through a state fund, was also established.
Ducsay's murder is the second cold case cracked by Milford detectives and Lawlor's investigators. A suspect was charged in the May 2001 murder of Kelsey Monahon nearly 10 years later. Luis Antonio Rodriguez, 50, is an inmate in a federal prison in Oklahoma. Lawlor said Thursday that efforts to extradite him continue. Monahon, 28 and pregnant, was found strangled in her beach house on Memorial Day weekend 2001.