Eileen Monaghan.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

Family, friends and public officials are mourning the death of Eileen Monaghan, a victim of a murder allegedly committed by her boyfriend, Chicopee firefighter Jason Chapdelaine, on April 14.

A resident of Chicopee and mother of two daughters, Monaghan was a fixture in Western Massachusetts public service as the longtime aide and chief of staff to now-retired state Rep. and Assistant House Majority Leader Joseph Wagner and later as the executive assistant to Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi. She was 48 when she died.

In a statement on social media, Wagner said he was “profoundly saddened” by Monaghan’s death.

“She was not only an accomplished professional as my chief of staff in service to the people of Chicopee, but she was also my closest friend. She was respected by her peers and loved and admired by her family and large circle of friends. Her daughters were the center of her universe and her love for them is without limit. It is impossible in this moment to understand such a profound loss resulting from a senseless act of violence. In memory and in honor of Eileen, the example of how she lived her life will undoubtedly be carried on by those she knew and loved,” he said.

In a prepared statement, Cocchi said Monaghan’s death was “felt deeply by the entire Hampden County Sheriff’s Office, Eileen’s family, friends and the community.”

“Eileen was not only a loved and valued colleague but also a dedicated and generous person who meant so much to so many, especially her kids,” Cocchi said. “Eileen was truly a rose in a world of thorns. As we try to process this tragic loss, please keep the Monaghan family in your thoughts and prayers. To say Eileen was loved and will be missed is an understatement.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) also extended his condolences, stating,

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Eileen Monaghan. I have had the pleasure of knowing the Monaghan family for many years, and my heart goes out to them during this difficult time. Eileen was a truly kind and intelligent person who dedicated her life to public service. She committed herself to making her community a better place, and the lives that she touched are grieving this profound loss, one that was far too soon. My thoughts and prayers are with Eileen’s family and friends, especially her two daughters.”

Chicopee Mayor John Vieau’s office also stated its staff was “profoundly saddened by the tragic loss of Eileen Monaghan, a cherished member of our Chicopee community.”

The statement continued, “Eileen was not only a dedicated public servant but also a beloved figure. Her passing is a great tragedy for us all, and we are all in mourning.”

Some who knew Monaghan, including Wagner, have paid tribute to her by changing their social media profile pictures to the Monaghan family crest.

Monaghan was predeceased earlier this month by her brother Michael, a resident of the Feeding Hills section of Agawam and former Hampden County Sheriff’s Office support services staff member who died after a five-year battle with cancer on April 4, according to his obituary and the Sheriff’s Office. Monaghan’s father, Michael Sr., was a retired Sheriff’s Office maintenance supervisor. He died in 2020, followed by her mother Bridie in 2021.

In the narrative presented to the court, police said Monaghan was found dead by police and emergency medical response personnel in the early morning hours of April 14 in Chapdelaine’s truck on South Water Street. Chapdelaine was also found unconscious with a belt around his neck in what police believed to be an attempted suicide. After an autopsy, the medical examiner determined Monaghan had been killed by a sharp instrument and blunt force trauma, revealing Mognahan’s body had “approximately 40 sharp instrument wounds to the torso, head and arms.”

Chapdelaine was arrested at the scene by Holyoke police and charged with murder. He was arraigned on April 16 in Holyoke District Court where a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. The court ordered Chapdelaine to be held without right to bail at the Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield. Later, Chapdelaine was ordered to be transferred to the Bridgewater State Hospital for a 30-day evaluation by reason of mental illness.

Chapdelaine’s next court date is scheduled for May 16.

Chapdelaine, a 52-year-old Springfield resident, has a criminal history that includes violence. In August 2000, he was charged with breaking and entering in the daytime, a felony, and assault and battery; he pleaded guilty. In September of that same year, he was accused of and pleaded guilty to violating an abuse prevention order.

He was arrested twice in June 2001 over the course of a few days on various felony and misdemeanor charges, including assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a class D substance and leaving the scene of property damage. He was sentenced to a year in prison for violating probation and was paroled after nine months.

Chapdelaine was hired on May 30, 1997, and was discharged on June 28, 2001, following the two arrests, according to the Vieau’s office. However, he was reinstated through the Civil Service process in 2004 and has been employed with the city ever since. Chapdelaine was among a handful of firefighters to be commended for 25 years of service in December 2022 as part of the organization of the annual Chicopee Firefighters Local 1710 Ball, as noted in a Facebook post on the Fire Department’s page. According to city payroll records, Chapdelaine earned just over $72,000 in regular and overtime pay in 2023.

The mayor’s office also took issue with some media outlets’ characterization of the city’s willingness to share information.

“Recent articles stated that Mayor [John] Vieau or Chief [Daniel] Stamborski have been evasive in responding to requests for comment or documents relative to Jason Chapdelaine’s employment history are completely untrue. As most journalists and media outlets recognize, the city is subject to state law in what is legally permissible to disclose from a personnel file about an employee,” a statement from the office read, in part, adding later that the city is prohibited by law from sharing an addition information regarding his personnel file.

Police allege that security personnel for Hazen Paper Mill, located at 240 S. Water St. in Holyoke, observed Chapdelaine’s Blue Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck at the back of the property on the other side of the rail tracks and discovered Chapdelaine standing next to a “severely beaten” Mognahan, who was in the vehicle. Police also stated that video surveillance shows Chapdelaine’s truck arriving in the area shortly after midnight. During an interview with police, one of the security workers told police that upon the discovery, Chapdelaine said something to the effect of “I really didn’t mean to do it.” A security supervisor recalled being told Chapdelaine said something along the lines of “I can’t believe I did this.”

Security personnel called 911 upon the discovery at 1:29 a.m. and Holyoke police responded, finding Chapdelaine with a large amount of blood on his clothing and a belt tied to the truck’s grab bar around his neck. Police also found Monaghan in the truck motionless and covered in blood. Officers untied the belt and Chapdelaine regained consciousness while other officers administered first aid to Monaghan and observed multiple stab wounds. Cataldo EMS also evaluated Monaghan and determined she had died.

Holyoke police requested the assistance of the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit. Investigators observed large amounts of blood on both the driver’s and passenger sides of the vehicle, covering seats, windows, door panels and the dashboard. Investigators also saw a folding knife “smeared in blood” on the truck’s dashboard. The truck was towed while investigators awaited a search warrant.

While being arrested and read his rights at the scene, Chapdelaine told officers, “I’m not talking.” During a later interview with Chapdelaine conducted by the Massachusetts State Police, Trooper Sean Kenney asked Chapdelaine after reading him his Miranda rights if he wanted to have a conversation, to which Chapdelaine responded, “I don’t really feel I […] I need to […] I murdered a woman.”

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