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Adopted Son Sentenced to 60 Years for Slaying Parents

February 26, 1993 GMT

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) _ A 22-year-old man convicted of murdering his adoptive parents with bullets police said were inscribed with the words ″Mom″ and ″Dad″ was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in prison without parole.

Matthew Heikkila argued with Superior Court Judge Michael Imbriani, who lectured him as he delivered the sentence.

Richard and Dawn Heikkila ″showered you with an abundance of love,″ Imbriani said.

″They wanted you to cease acting like a spoiled child, to stop mooching off of their hard-earned money and to start standing on your own two feet as an adult,″ the judge said. ″You showed your appreciation by murdering them.″


Heikila ambushed his adoptive parents as they returned to their Bernards Township home Jan. 29, 1991, and shot them to death.

Investigators found spent shotgun shells, one inscribed ″Mom″ and the other ″Mom and Dad.″

Heikkila was convicted Dec. 4 on 12 counts of murder, kidnapping, robbery, making terroristic threats and weapons charges. Heikkila was charged with kidnapping his girlfriend and forcing her to spend the night in the family home with his parent’s bodies.

Defense lawyers claimed Heikkila had a history of mental illness and shot his parents during a psychotic outburst. They claimed he suffered from ″adopted child syndrome.″

Somerset County Prosecutor Nicholas L. Bissell Jr. said Heikkila’s statements to police, prosecutors and reporters offered ample evidence that while he was a troubled youth, he coldly planned the killings. In court, Heikkila blamed the judge for his parents’ murder.

In July 1990, Imbriani found Heikkila innocent by reason of insanity for threatening to kill his father. The judge ordered Heikkila released under the condition he undergo therapy, but Heikkila contends Imbriani failed to check whether he received adequate treatment.

Heikkila fled to Jamaica where he was captured and returned Feb. 6, 1991. He has remained in the county jail ever since.