After reopening a cold case, Waterbury, Conn., police determined the actor's mother did not commit suicide

By People Staff
Updated June 25, 2012 05:45 PM
Credit: Stewart Cook/Rex USA

Police in Connecticut have determined that Dylan McDermott‘s mother was murdered in 1967 and did not commit suicide, according to local news reports.

Dylan was only 5 when his mother, Diane, was shot in the head in Feb. 1967.

Her death was ruled an accident at the time, but Waterbury, Conn., police reopened their investigation and concluded they now have enough evidence to file murder charges against John Sponza, who lived with Diane McDermott at the time, the Republican-American newspaper reports.

Sponza, who had ties to organized crime, was killed in 1972, however, and his body was found in the trunk of a car in a Massachusetts grocery store parking lot.

According to the newspaper, the American Horror Story actor, 50, personally asked police to reopen their investigation. Police Superintendent Michael Gugliotti told the Republican-American that the actor had deeply personal reasons for doing so.

“He said, ‘In order for me to survive and to get where I am today, I needed to bury that moment in my life deep within myself,’ ” the paper reports. “He said it wasn’t until recently ‘that I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m able to begin to process all of this.’ ”

At the time of Diane’s death, Sponza was the only witness to the crime. According to reports, Dylan was standing outside the door of the apartment and heard a shot.

Sponza reportedly told police at the time that Diane had committed suicide. But new evidence suggests that the gun found near Diane’s body was too small a caliber to have been the weapon that killed her, and that the murder weapon had been pressed to the back of her head.

Dylan McDermott has yet to comment about the investigation.