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Professor allegedly slain by wife may have been dead for months

By DAVE ALTIMARI and DAVID OWENS

Hartford Courant

BURLINGTON — State police are investigating whether University of Connecticut medical school professor Dr. Pierluigi Bigazzi, whose wife faces a murder charge after his body was found in his Burlington home last week, may have been dead for several months.

In an effort to determine how long Bigazzi may have been dead, state police have asked his first wife to provide copies of alimony checks she received from him since the summer to see who wrote them.

His current wife, Linda Kosuda-Bigazzi, 70, was charged Friday with murder and tampering with evidence in the death of Bigazzi, 84, who was known to co-workers as Pete.

“I don’t know yet who signed the checks,” Anna Bigazzi said. “The state police asked me to request copies of the checks from the bank and I am waiting for them. I really haven’t had any contact with my former husband in 40 years and I have no idea what is going on.”

Pierluigi Bigazzi divorced Anna Bigazzi in February 1978 and, five months later, married the woman now accused by police of killing him.

Linda Kosuda-Bigazzi was taken into custody Friday, but posted $1.5 million bail over the weekend. She is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Superior Court in Bristol.

The warrant for Kosuda-Bigazzi’s arrest has been sealed, police said.

A Burlington constable and a state trooper went to 70 Smith Lane on Feb. 5 for a well-being check on Bigazzi. Sources said someone had called University of Connecticut police to express concern about not hearing from Bigazzi for some time.

Sources said, when police went inside the home, they discovered the wrapped-up body. Sources said it was clear he had been dead for months. The medical examiner’s office ruled Bigazzi’s death a homicide and determined he was killed by blunt trauma to the head.

Bigazzi served on the faculty at the UConn Health Center since 1975 and earned $200,000 last year, according to state records. He came to Connecticut from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he met Kosuda-Bigazzi, who was doing her post-doctoral studies there, former colleagues said.

She followed him to Connecticut and the two worked together. They were married less than six months after he divorced his first wife. They have lived at the house on Smith Lane since they were married.

Colleagues who worked with the couple said Monday many co-workers did not realize they were married. The couple worked on several projects involving environmental hazards that could predispose people to autoimmune diseases. One of their projects required giving 24 rabbits vasectomies.

“I had no idea that they had a personal relationship,” said David Greiner, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Greiner worked on several projects with the Bigazzis before leaving the health center in the early 1990s.

Greiner said Bigazzi was in total control, from applying for grant money to doling out lab time.

“(Kosuda-Bigazzi) was very quiet — seemed like she was more like a technician who was working for him, not a fellow scientist,” Greiner said.

Another former colleague, Nicholas Potter, said while he knew they were married, they never acted like a couple in the laboratories.

“They were both very reserved, both antisocial but they were inseparable,” Potter said. “They came to work together and left together.”

Potter also said that Kosuda-Bigazzi was very quiet, but that may have been due to office dynamics.

“Peter was the tenured person,” Potter said. “She wasn’t on that track so he would have been the one making decisions regarding projects … She was just a very quiet person who did whatever he told her to do.”

But Kosuda-Bigazzi was an accomplished scientist. She collaborated with her husband on more than a dozen journal articles.

Bigazzi was a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UConn medical school, which is part of what is now known as UConn Health in Farmington, according to the school’s directory.

Sources said police asked for the high bond because Kosuda-Bigazzi has access to more than $4 million in property and other assets.

A source said she owns a home in Switzerland and records show she owns two condominiums on the ocean in Myrtle Beach, S.C., worth more than $300,000. The house on Smith Lane in Burlington is appraised at about $294,000 and is listed in her name, town records show.

Potter said the allegations are shocking to anyone who saw the couple work together in the lab.

“There certainly wasn’t any indications of abuse or fighting between them,” he said.

Kosuda-Bigazzi’s lawyers, Brian Karpe and Pat Tomasiewicz of Hartford, declined to comment Monday

The university said Bigazzi was a faculty member at the medical school for more than 40 years. He was trained as an internist and specialized in immunology research. He also taught pathology and oncology. Most recently, the university said, he was preparing online educational material to supplement text books.

It was not clear Monday when Bigazzi was last in contact with officials at the UConn medical school and what his responsibilities were beyond preparing the online materials.

The university, which was closed Monday for Lincoln’s Birthday, did not respond to a request for comment about when Bigazzi was last in contact with staff at UConn and when and why university officials became concerned about his well-being.

State police ask anyone who had direct contact with Pierluigi Bigazzi between July 2017 and this month, or any contractors who performed work at 70 Smith Lane, to call Det. Mike Fitzsimons of the Western District Major Crime Squad at 860-626-7922.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

 

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