Navin case like nothing Shaw has seen
Three weeks to the day after Tim Shaw assumed his new job as Easton’s police chief, relatives of Jeanette and Jeffrey Navin walked through the door of the Easton Police Department, on Friday, Aug. 7, to report the couple’s disappearance.
The Easton police investigated the Navin case over the weekend. When the couple hadn’t turned up by Sunday night, Shaw reached out to the Connecticut State Police, the FBI, the state’s attorney’s office, and other state and local law enforcement agencies.
It became apparent that the Navins hadn’t simply taken an unplanned vacation.
“We began speaking with the media and everyone who knew the Navins,” Shaw said during an interview in his office Nov. 6 about the case. Police were looking for tips as to their whereabouts.
The couple had moved to a rental house at 77 Staples Road in Easton in June, two months before they went missing, after living at a private residence on Osborn Farm Road in Weston for 21 years. The family was well known in Weston, where Jeanette Navin worked for 18 years as a paraprofessional in the middle school library.
The mystery of what happened to Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin is now over. Their remains were found Oct. 30 under leaves outside a vacant home at 89 Norfield Road in Weston.
Their son, Kyle Navin, 27, has been charged with their murders, and his girlfriend, Jennifer Valiante, 31, has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Navin is being held on $2.5-million bond. Valiante is being held on $2-million bond.
Dr. James Gill, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, ruled Nov. 5 that their deaths were homicides as a result of gunshot wounds.
Out of deference to the couple’s grieving family, Shaw referred questions about the details of the case to the 27-page arrest warrant affidavits for Kyle Navin and Valiante, prepared by Detective Thomas Kiely, a sworn member of the Connecticut State Police.
“This family has gone through so much,” Shaw said. “I don't want to disrespect the family, which is looking for closure. The shock to the family is difficult for anyone to comprehend. Just imagine how the family feels.”
It was Laura Thompson, Jeffrey Navin’s sister, who went to the Easton Police Department Aug. 7 to report the couple’s disappearance. Thompson was accompanied by her sister-in-law, Annie Navin of Easton, who is married to Jeffrey Navin’s brother, William.
William Navin is a co-owner of J&J Refuse, a trash hauling and recycling business, of Westport with his brother Jeffrey Navin.
Thompson told Easton police that the couple had not been seen since Aug. 4, and that refuse along Jeffrey Navin’s route had not been collected over the past two days.
William Navin asked his wife to relate that “Jeffrey never missed his route,” according to the affidavit, and that “his cell phone was turned off, which was out of the ordinary.”
Annie Navin further stated that Jeffrey hadn’t told anyone that he and his wife were going on vacation, and that he usually left his son, Kyle, operations manager for the business, in charge when he went away.
Easton police called the Navins’ cell phones, which went straight to voicemail, and discovered through an ex parte order through Verizon that the Navins’ phones had been turned off.
Jeanette Navin’s phone was last used Aug. 4 at 8:45 a.m., and Jeffrey Navin’s phone was turned off at 1:23 p.m. the same day. Both were last used in the vicinity of Kyle Navin’s home on 142 Aldine Avenue in Bridgeport, which his parents had bought for him, according to the affidavit.
Police learned that no money had been taken from their bank accounts.
“Probably within a week, we knew it was more than a missing persons case,” Shaw said.
“We used every resource we had,” he said of the 14-member department he leads.
“The Easton Police Department did everything I would have done in Stamford. There was no issue with the size of the department.”
Before coming to Easton, Shaw had worked for 28 years for the Stamford Police Department, where he attained the rank of assistant chief.
Police brass and officers from more than 16 departments and law enforcement agencies attended his swearing-in ceremony July 16.
Because of Shaw’s extensive connections with other departments, his former boss, Stamford Chief Jon Fontneau, said at the time, “Easton just became a regional police department.”
Little did he know how fast his words would come true.
The case unfolded
A pickup truck owned by the couple was found on Aug. 9 in a commuter lot in Westport off Exit 42 of the Merritt Parkway. The truck had a shattered glass window, and blood was found in the vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Kyle Navin had a heavy drug problem, which was escalating, police learned during the course of the investigation.
When police conducted a search of his home in Bridgeport on Aug. 19, they found two firearms, ammunition, drug paraphernalia, and evidence he was using heroin, oxycodone and other controlled substances.
This led to Navin being arrested on Sept. 8 and charged with possession of a firearm by an individual who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. He has been held in federal custody in Rhode Island ever since.
Startling information was revealed by the FBI in Navin’s arrest warrant affidavit. It contained an excerpt from a final text-message conversation between Kyle and his father, Jeffrey, on Aug. 4, the last day Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin were seen.
Jeffrey Navin texted Kyle, “I’m not going home till I know mom is okay. Did you hurt mom?”
Kyle responded, “No, absolutely not, why would you think …”
Jeffrey later texted, “I go home and get framed for murder.”
Jeffrey then accused Kyle of setting him up.
The affidavit also stated that in their search of Navin’s home in Bridgeport, police discovered a receipt from Home Depot issued on Aug. 5 showing that Kyle Navin purchased germicidal bleach, hair and grease drain opener, “Goo Gone” stain remover, and contractor cleanup bags.
Kyle was reportedly uncooperative with police and took off for a week, staying with friends in Westport.
“When the case first started, there many different theories,” Shaw said. “Through a collaborative effort of all the agencies we were able to meticulously disprove most of the theories, with Kyle being the suspect.”
Over the course of the next several months, while Kyle remained in federal custody, police continued their search for Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin but were unsuccessful.
Police even brought in cadaver dogs on Oct. 7 to search the area around the couple’s home in Easton, but to no avail until the discovery of remains in Weston.
“Trying to find the bodies was paramount,” Shaw said.
Close to three months passed before the break in the case came with the discovery of human remains Oct. 30 at an abandoned house in Weston and the revelation by state police a day later that the remains belonged to Jeanette and Jeffrey Navin.
An affluent town, known for its rural beauty and excellent school system, Weston has a low crime rate, and is not where one would expect to find dead bodies dumped.
Kyle Navin grew up in Weston and was reportedly friends with the son of the owner of the Norfield Road home, although he hadn’t seen him lately, according to the affidavit.
Easton police remained integrally involved in all aspects throughout the investigation, although the state police took the lead once it became evident that a crime had been committed, Shaw said.
“I learned quickly what an unbelievable asset the state police is for a small town,” he said. “I will be eternally grateful to the state police, the FBI, the state’s attorney’s office and the other agencies that worked to bring closure for the family. It would not have been possible without all of the agencies, especially the state police with the personnel, man-hours and forensics expertise they brought to bear. The state police resources were invaluable.”
Although the mystery has been solved, the investigation didn't stop with the arrest warrants.
“We haven't closed the book on this at all,” Shaw said. We will see the case out. Every investigator was consumed by this. It was a busy time, but I’m not concerned with me. It was for the Navin family, to bring closure to the family.”
Shaw said he’s glad he accepted the position of chief of police of Easton, which he described as “a great community.”
“This was an Isolated incident,” he said. “Looking back, it was a case like nothing I've ever come across before, more due to the family aspect.”
Fingers crossed that this will be the worst crime he has to deal with during his tenure in Easton and that the department never will never have to face a case like this again, he said.