Gurpreet Singh, charged with four counts of aggravated murder and possibly facing the death penalty in the slayings of four family members — including his wife — April 28 in Ohio, waived extradition Wednesday in his first appearance in court.
Singh, who was arrested without incident Tuesday by Branford police in the parking lot of the Branford Walmart store, will be held without bail in Connecticut until Aug. 1 as provided by Connecticut state law, as he waits for West Chester Township, Ohio, authorities to pick him up.
Two relatives of Singh told Hearst Connecticut Media after his arraignment Wednesday that he had been in Branford — where he had lived for 11/2 years when he arrived from India in 2005 or 2006 — since Sunday for a family wedding.
His three children were with him here, said his uncle and cousin, who live in Branford. They spoke on the condition that they not be identified by name. Singh and his children arrived Sunday and had been staying at his uncle’s house, they said.
Singh looked stunned as he appeared alongside court-appointed Public Defender David Forsythe before Superior Court Judge Philip Scarpellino in Superior Court in New Haven, wearing a light blue polo shirt with a navy blue collar and blue jeans.
In conveying Singh’s desire to waive extradition, Forsythe told the judge that Singh “told me that he’s innocent of these charges and he wants to go back to Ohio and clear his name as soon as possible.”
Singh did not enter a formal plea in the deaths of his four family members, described in one Ohio news account as “beloved members of the Sikh and West Chester community.”
Singh is being charged with four counts of aggravated murder, West Chester police said Tuesday at a news conference in Ohio.
West Chester police said Singh was the one who made the 911 call about the shooting deaths of four family members in April 2019, according to a story on the website of the Journal News newspaper.
Branford police said Singh, 37, was arrested about 2 p.m. Tuesday in Branford. He was being held as a fugitive from justice in the Branford Police Department lockup pending the arraignment Wednesday, according to Deputy Chief John Alves.
West Chester police notified Branford Police Tuesday morning that Singh was staying at a home in Branford.
Branford police spotted Singh leaving the home and he was apprehended in the Walmart parking lot, a release said.
The April 28 victims were identified as Hakikat Singh Panag, 59; his wife, Parmjit Kaur, 62; their daughter, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; and Paramjit Kaur’s sister, Amarjit Kaur, 58.
Shalinderjit Kaur was Gurpreet Singh’s wife.
Singh’s two relatives told Hearst Connecticut Media and two Connecticut TV stations after the court proceeding that Singh was arrested when he went to Walmart to pick up prescriptions for one of his children.
“We weren’t contacted or anything” before that, said Singh’s cousin.
Singh’s uncle said Singh is his brother’s son. Singh, who operates his own trucking company, had moved to a house he already owned in Indiana since the deaths of his wife and inlaws, the uncle said.
His new home is about 60-70 miles from Cincinnati, said the cousin.
The family learned of his arrest as they got ready for a party related to the wedding, he said. The wedding itself had been scheduled more than a year ago, the cousin said.
“We were shocked because it happened so many months ago,” said Singh’s cousin. He said the family, which had heard a 911 call that Singh made to police the night of the incident, said they had shied away from asking him about it in the months since because they did not want to make him relive it.
But Singh “told us numerous times” that he was not responsible for the four family members’ deaths, the cousin said.
The hardest part of the past day was explaining to Singh’s children that he had been arrested for the deaths of their mother, grandparents and aunt, he said.
West Chester police announced Singh’s arrest during a Tuesday afternoon news conference called 64 days after the four shooting deaths at the Lakefront at West Chester apartment complex, the Journal News reported.
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, who attended the conference, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Singh may face the death penalty, but a grand jury ultimately will make that determination.
“There will be a day of reckoning in respect to this case,” Gmoser said.
West Chester Township is located between Dayton and Cincinnati, roughly 35 miles southwest of Dayton and 23 miles northeast of Cincinnati.
According to a Dayton Daily News story, “It was a graphic scene police officers relayed over their radios to dispatchers on April 28 as they discovered four family members shot to death in a West Chester Twp. apartment on Wyndtree” Drive.
“Smoke came from burning food on a kitchen stove as one officer said two of the four were laying in ‘a good amount of blood’ in the living room,” the newspaper reported.
“The West Chester Twp. community was shocked by the quadruple homicide, not knowing why someone would kill four members of a family who by all accounts were beloved members of the Sikh and West Chester community,” the story said.
In a frantic 911 call, a man told dispatchers, “My wife and my family are on the ground bleeding,” the story said.