Arrest made in murder of Hamden woman who died in suspicious fire

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HAMDEN - An arrest has been made in the murder of a woman who died in a fire on Lilac Avenue in Hamden late last year.

On Wednesday,  Hamden police, with the assistance of federal marshals, arrested Benjamin Carpenter, 26, of Hamden in New Haven in connection to the death of Jennifer Antonier, 45.

Benjamin Carpenter

Benjamin Carpenter

The December 26, 2015 fire was deemed suspicious after Antonier was found dead inside, but her fatal injuries weren't consistent with a fire. It was later determined Antonier was stabbed in the neck and upper body.

Around the same time that the body was found in the house, Antonier's car was found by New Haven police and it too had been set on fire.

Cell phone data also shows Carpenter was at the home minutes before the fire was reported.

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said, "That's a significant piece of the investigation and how we pieced the puzzle together."

Police wouldn't get into detail, but court papers indicate Carpenter asked a friend to help him get rid of a car.

Hamden police have been investigating the fire as a suspicious death.

Documents also show that Carpenter's cousin told police that on Christmas night he came to her saying "he got into something and was scared."

She says he told her he fought off a woman and man who pulled guns on him and tried to rob him. The cousin claims he had a folding knife and had blood and scratches on him. She says Carpenter told her "that the girl that tried to to rob him is dead."

Carpenter claims Antonier wanted to buy drugs from him.

Courtesy of Hamden Police

Courtesy of Hamden Police

John Taylor, who was a close friend of Antonier's says the former Yale social worker didn't lead that type of lifestyle.

Taylor said, "She usually stayed home, walked her dog, or was painting."

Carpenter, was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy.

Carpenter was detained at police headquarters on a  $1 million bail, then was taken to Meriden Superior Court Thursday morning.

Police say additional arrests are possible.