Mel Evans/AP
Tara Fowler
April 16, 2015 02:00 PM

A couple’s four sons claim that prosecutors botched an investigation into their parents’ deaths – and they plan to offer a $250,000 reward to find the real killer.

John and Joyce Sheridan were found dead in their Montgomery Township, New Jersey, home in late September. Last month, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office issued a report stating that John, the 72-year-old CEO of Cooper Health System, had stabbed his wife, 69, multiple times in the face, then set fire to their bedroom before turning the knife on himself.

However, the couple’s four sons dispute that report, saying that prosecutors ignored and distorted evidence to support their initial theory of a murder-suicide.

“They walked into this house. They decided what this was,” one of the sons, Mark Sheridan, said in a press conference Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. “When they realized they had screwed up, it was too late to backtrack.”

Mark, an attorney himself, added that he wished he’d been in charge of the investigation. “The basics would have been done,” he said, according to the Courier-Post.

“It’s excruciating,” he went on. “I had a huge amount of faith in the system. I can tell you I no longer have that faith.”

Mark addressed the media a day after he and his brothers sent an open letter to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office detailing the various faults in the investigation into their parents’ deaths.

In the letter, the sons note that Joyce was found with blood on her hands – as though she’d fought off her attacker – but John had no defensive wounds, the AP reports.

A fire poker was also found in the couple’s bedroom, despite the fact that it had no fireplace. And Joyce’s jewelry was found in a bag in the closet.

The letter also notes that it took the prosecutor’s office “no less than three attempts … to convince the medical examiner to conclude murder-suicide,” according to the Courier-Post.

The family hired a pathologist to conduct an independent autopsy on John’s body. That autopsy discovered that he died of a wound to the jugular and determined that investigators had not recovered a weapon that could have caused the fatal injury, the Courier-Post reports.

Mark concluded by announcing that the family plans to offer a $250,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in his parents’ deaths. He previously announced plans to sue to have his father’s death certificate changed so it does not read that he killed himself.

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