The Madison Police Department announced Tuesday morning that the person of interest it was seeking in the Monday, January 28 homicide of Joel Marino on the near south side is now considered an official suspect. The case has attracted significant attention in the city, both due to the victim's well-known status in the community as well as due to the unexplained nature of the crime.
"It's fair to say that detectives continue to look at many different avenues as far as motive and as to whom the perpetrator might be," says MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain, "and at this point still cannot rule out that it might be random."
The police are able to point to a suspect now, though, the same person who witnesses originally identified as walking in the vicinity and time of the homicide last month. As detailed in a notice sent by DeSpain to Madison media on Tuesday morning:
Based on new evidence in the Joel Marino homicide, the Madison Police Department now believes the person of interest they were seeking is now directly involved in the murder of Joel Marino. The Madison Police Department describes the suspect as a white male, in his twenties and possibly in his early thirties. The suspect is believed to be between 5'10" and 6'02" and may have a thin build. The suspect is also believed to have blonde or light brown hair. This suspect was possibly seen in the State Street area on Friday, January 25th during the afternoon hours. This suspect was last seen wearing a tan Carharrt type jacket and a white stocking cap with a red motion W on the front. Anyone with information on the possible identity of this suspect is strongly encouraged to call Crimestoppers.Persons with information on the suspect can call Crimestoppers at 608-266-6014 or submit an online tip.
The white stocking cap noted in the announcement, along with a gray backpack also believed to have been worn by the suspect, were both recovered by police shortly after the homicide. These items, along with several items taken from Marino's home at 714 West Shore Drive -- including a knife that appeared to have fresh blood on it -- have been sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory for analysis, explains DeSpain.
The detectives are not sharing any more details, though, including why the person of interest was reclassified as a suspect. DeSpain says he was told by detectives that the release of this information "would possibly taint the investigation."
Meanwhile, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the homicide has increased by thousands of dollars since it was first announced, and is now around $42,000.
Marino's family and friends held a vigil on Sunday outside of his former home on Monona Bay, reports the State Journal, where they lit candles and shared remembrances of his life. They have also launched a memorial website, updates on the status of the investigation, as well as a letter from Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, a collection of memories and guestbook, and a writes a colleague of Marino's in a letter to his parents. "I hope that knowing Joel connected with the lives of so many will bring you some sense of joy and comfort."