In August 1989, Victoria Cushman was bludgeoned to death in her apartment in Warwick, Rhode Island. Her body was found by her employer after she failed to show up for work the next morning.
Jeffrey Hornoff, a Warwick police officer, was an early suspect because of his relationship with Cushman. Though Hornoff initially declined to say whether or not he was having an affair with Cushman, he later admitted that they had had an intimate relationship that he wanted to break off. However, Hornoff claimed he was with his wife and friends at a party on the night of the murder, an alibi that she and friends confirmed.
Hornoff was not arrested until 1994, after political pressure led the Rhode Island Attorney General to transfer the case to state police. No physical evidence linked Hornoff to the murder.
Hornoff was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in June 1996 and sentenced to life in prison.
Following his conviction, Hornoff pursued several appeals and motions for a new trial, all of which were denied. In 2001, he requested DNA testing of the evidence found at the crime scene.
In November 2002, before the testing could be completed, another Warwick, Rhode Island man confessed to Cushman’s murder and Hornoff was released.
In January 2003, after the real perpetrator pled guilty to second-degree murder, the prosecution joined Hornoff’s attorney’s motion to vacate the conviction and dismiss the charges, which was granted by the trial court.
In 2006, the city of Warwick agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Hornoff for $600,000 and $47,000 annually in disability for life.
- Stephanie Denzel