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December 31, 2013

Assailant assaulted former girlfriend while their son, 7, watched, police say

Lucinda Knoll died of blunt force trauma, according to authorities

Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

NORWICH —

NORWICH -- William H. Danielson, now a murder defendant, allegedly assaulted his former girlfriend while she was putting their 7-year-old son into a vehicle early Friday morning, according to Chenango County law enforcement officials.

Lucinda Knoll, 39, of Norwich, suffered blunt force trauma to her head and died Sunday, authorities said during a media conference at the Chenango County Sheriff's Office this morning.

Danielson, 48, of Preston, was arraigned Monday in Norwich Town Court on a charge of second-degree murder, Joseph A. McBride, Chenango County district attorney, said. Evidence is that Danielson hid behind Knoll's trailer before the assault, the prosecutor said.

Danielson has waived his right to a felony hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday in the town court, McBride said, and the case will be presented to a grand jury in January.

Chenango Sheriff Ernest R. Cutting Jr. and Lt. Richard Cobb described Friday's incident but withheld some facts, including details about a possible weapon and autopsy results.

According to authorities, Knoll had been leaving home for her job at a local manufacturer and was left lying in her driveway at 110 Bourbon St. in the Maple Grove Trailer Park in the town of Norwich.

A neighbor who heard the 7-year-old calling for help, retrieved the child and returned to his own home and called 911, said deputies who reported that the emergency call was received at about 6:45 a.m. Friday.

Cutting said Danielson was arrested after he left the scene and returned to his Preston home. Danielson has an Oxford mailing address, deputies said.

Cutting said Knoll's family is going through a “tough time” and has asked for privacy to grieve.

A man at Knoll's Norwich home today who identified himself as her stepfather but withheld his name and further comment, said, Lucinda was a wonderful person and a wonderful mother.”

Authorities said Knoll, who was airlifted Friday to Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center in Johnson City, had been on life support and died during the weekend.

Soon after deputies responded to the scene at Knoll's residence Friday morning, Norwich police arrived with the department K-9 Weeks and began tracking with a deputy.

At about 7:05 a.m., dispatchers at the 911 center received a call about a vehicle that struck a utility pole on Preston Center Road in the town of Preston, then left the scene.

A member of the Preston Fire Department located a pickup truck with front-end damage at the intersection of Preston Center Road and county Route 4, but no one was in the vicinity, deputies said.

State police responded to the crash and determined that the pickup belonged to Danielson, who was located at his home about a mile away. Danielson was taken to the sheriff's office for questioning and was arrested, Cutting said.

Danielson originally was charged Friday with attempted murder and robbery, authorities said. He was arraigned in town court on the more-serious second-degree murder charge Monday and returned to jail without bail.

McBride said Scott Clippinger of Smyrna has been appointed by the court to represent Danielson.

Clippinger didn't return a message left at his office today.

The robbery charge was lodged because some unspecified personal items taken from Knoll by Danielson, authorities said.

Knoll and Danielson had lived in Preston, but had broken up about four months ago, authorities said, and Knoll moved to Norwich.

Knoll had two other sons, ages 10 and 14, authorities said, and those boys were with their father Friday morning.

Residents in Norwich, Preston and Oxford have provided valuable assistance since Friday, Cutting said.

The investigation continues, the sheriff said, and anyone who was in the area of Maple Grove Trailer Park at about 6 a.m. Friday and may have seen suspicious activities is asked to call 337-1921.