Connecticut Parents Arrested in Prep School Student’s Death at 2022 House Party Stabbing

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Two Connecticut parents were arrested and charged by police. They were released Thursday almost a year after being accused of allowing minors to consume alcohol at a party that resulted in the May 2022 murder of James McGrath, 17.

Paul Leifer (59), and Susana Leifer (51) were arrested by the Shelton Police Department (SPD). They were charged with permitting minors to possess alcohol. After McGrath died from stab wounds, Susana Leifer was charged with second-degree reckless danger.

“Several high school students attended the party, where alcohol was present.”  SPD released a Thursday press statement saying that Susanna had been in contact with some of those present during the investigation. “A fight broke out during the party.”

According to the police report, the suspects arrived at another party at Laurel Glen Drive, Shelton after the fight at the Leifers’ house on Lazy Brook Road. The victims were also there, as was the witness.

McGrath was stabbed in the head after another fight broke out at the Laurel Glen Drive home.

According to police, the Leifers were released with a promise to appear in court on April 3.

Raul Eliah Vale, a 16-year-old from Milford, was charged with murder and two counts each of first-degree attack for allegedly stabbing McGrath during the May 14th fight. Valle was a junior at Fairfield College Preparatory School and St. Joseph High School in Trumbull.

Police responded to several 911 calls about a fight that took place just before midnight on May 14, 2022, outside the Laurel Glen Drive party in Shelton. Multiple victims were found on the front lawn. According to the warrant, the owner of the house where the party occurred was at home at the time.

According to multiple witnesses, three to four people arrived at the party and left a dark-colored Honda SUV. Witnesses also stated that the vehicle was left empty after the parties had exited it. This led to a fight between several male participants.

Witnesses told police that there were approximately 25 people involved in the fight in the front yard of the house at one time. The report mentions at least three juvenile suspects, including Vallle who is accused in the report of carrying a knife.

McGrath was one of the victims.

The warrant states that there was one stab wound to “the left side of the chest.” “The stab wound went through the heart and ribs.”

McGrath was found to have approximately 1.8 liters of blood, according to a Connecticut doctor.

Three other victims were also injured in the fight. After the altercation, one officer said he saw “numerous pools of blood” and other personal belongings on the front lawn.

Further, the warrant states that the stabbing victims had a verbal altercation with the suspects at a Shelton party on Lazy Brook Road earlier in the night. Witnesses described the suspects as St. Joe’s students. They later arrived at Laurel Glen. Another witness said that students from Shelton High School were also present at the Lazy Brook Road party.

St. Joseph representative stated that Valle was in good academic standing, and had not been involved in any fights before the May 14 incident.

Valle was released just days after his May 2022 arrest on a bond of $2 million.

An obituary for McGrath describes the 17-year-old as the “sunshine” of his parent’s life and his sister’s “best friend and confidant.”

“Jim was a wonderfully happy person with a big heart who was a loving friend to many,” the obituary states. “He loved his school, Fairfield Prep, and he excelled as an athlete in every sport he chose. He played football and lacrosse for Fairfield Prep and as a youth for Shelton and Connecticut Wolves as well. He understood the meaning of being part of a team.”