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After 21 years, fallout persists in Glanda murder case

October 5, 2018
By AARON CERBONE - Staff Writer (acerbone@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

Twenty-one years ago, five lives were forever changed in a murder that stunned the Lake Placid and Tupper Lake communities.

One life was cut short, two were destined for prison - one for life, the other possibly so - and two children lost their mother and father in a single evening.

Jeffery Glanda and Nicholas Pecararo are currently in prison. Glanda, convicted of first-degree murder for killing his wife Jeannine, will spend the rest of his life behind bars with no hope of parole.

Article Photos

Jeff Glanda, who hired Nicholas Pecararo to help kill his wife Jeannine in 1997, glances at the camera as he walks into court during his murder trial in Elizabethtown in January 2000.
(News file photo — Victoria Hristovski)

Pecararo, convicted of second-degree murder as an accomplice, has served 17 years of his 20-to-life term. He is currently residing in Cayuga County Correctional Facility. A recent interview with him showed his hair is a bit grayer and his beard a bit fuller than in 1997.

Pecararo began to be eligible for parole in September 2017. He was denied it then, and his second parole hearing will take place in May 2019. Parole is determined by several factors: an individual's criminal history, accomplishments in prison, potential to successfully reintegrate into the community, perceived danger to public safety, and statements made by victims and victims' families.

At Pecararo's first parole hearing, Jeannine and Jeff's children Tyler and Jordan Glanda presented victim statements to the court, as did Tenielle (Glanda) Gonzalez, Jeff's daughter from a previous relationship. Tyler and Jordan now live in Plattsburgh while Tenielle lives in Tupper Lake

Pecararo does not have much of a prior criminal record and has a good institutional history with only a few minor marks against him and little perceived danger to public safety. The main reason for Pecararo's parole denial was the victim statements.

Tyler says that as long as he is alive, Pecararo will not receive parole. At the hearing, Tyler said he believes Pecararo should not be released until his mother walks through the door.

"Until I draw my last breath, I'm not going to sit back and let my mother be his mulligan," Tyler said. "Where is the reset button for my mother? Where is the reset button for my sister, or myself?"

Though it is difficult to revive all the anger, guilt and angst he feels when talking about how his childhood was altered, he said he will travel to Albany every two years when Pecararo has a parole hearing to plead his case for why Pecararo is not fit to be in society.

"He's never made any attempt to apologize to us, never made any attempt to reach out to us and say, 'I'm sorry for what I was involved in.' There's just zero remorse," Tyler said. "I have zero sympathy for him, I have zero compassion for him as an individual.

"Twenty-one years ago, Nick sentenced Jordan and I to a life sentence without our mother. It's only fair that he serves the same."

Tyler feels remorse himself, though, seeming to place some of the blame for his mother's death on himself.

The murder took place in his mother's home, 500 feet away from where he and his sister were sleeping at their father's house next door in Lake Placid, and the plotting was done right below his feet. He was 12 years old at the time, and Jordan was 8.

A few weeks before the murder, Pecararo came over to remove trees and have dinner with Jeff and his girlfriend, Cheri Lindsay, now Cheri Weston. Meeting in the kitchen of her apartment below the house, the trio's voices carried upstairs through a cold air return vent in Tyler's room.

Tyler said he heard his father, Pecararo and Cheri talking about how they needed to "get rid of the bitch."

He believes Cheri was involved, or at least knowledgeable of the murder plot, but she was never questioned.

"I find it hard to believe that you could be living in the same house as somebody else and have absolutely no idea that this would happen, knowing the level of attention, knowing the level of involvement," Tyler said.

The weekend of Jeannine's funeral, Jeff took the kids and Cheri on a vacation to Rhode Island. Tyler said he cried the entire weekend, recalling seeing that Princess Diana had also died the same weekend.

"My mother had just died. Her funeral was on Saturday, and here we are in Newport, Rhode Island, and my father and his girlfriend are acting like it's a celebratory vacation," Tyler said.

Two weeks later he was woken up by police shining lights in his window and learned his father had been arrested after a high-speed police chase.

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Children in court

Tyler, then 12, and Jordan, then 8, were suddenly alone, moving from one family member guardian to the next throughout their childhood, tossed around by a system that Tyler says did not support children.

Though Tyler and Jordan had previously spent a lot of time with their mother's side of the family, the court ruled to give Jeff custody, and they were sent to live with his sister, their aunt, whom they had met once before.

His father's side of the family was "fractured" and was not comforting to the kids enduring a traumatic event, not allowing them to attend a candlelight vigil for their mom and blaming them for what happened.

Over the phone Jeff had screamed at Tyler, asking, "How can you do this to me?" His grandmother on his father's side once told him that he wasn't part of the family anymore and flipped him off.

Jeff maintained custody of the children, even after he had been arrested for their mother's murder, and had control over where they lived.

A court psychiatrist advised that the kids wanted to stay with Jeff's sister.

Tyler said the only reason for that was because he and his sister had been told that their father was going to make bail, and if they didn't stay with her they would never see him again.

Tyler said neither the courts nor the media represented him and his sister correctly. They didn't pay attention to their requests, instead listening only to the adults.

"We were very much pressured into doing as our father asked," Tyler said.

He wrote to a law guardian twice in the nearly two years he lived with his aunt, asking to leave, to no avail. He also wrote to another lawyer in Schroon Lake, begging for him to take their case.

"I feel like there's a huge disconnect between the court system and children when it comes to a situation like mine," Tyler said. "I certainly feel like there should be a little more weight put on what kids say."

Tyler also said he and his sister were never asked about what they knew. For example, Tyler knew Jeff had tapped the phones in his mother's house, a fact that Tyler said was never revealed in court.

Tyler said Pecararo's appeal attorney was also his and his sister's law guardian, which he said was a major conflict of interest.

Eventually, they moved from their aunt's home in Tupper Lake to that of their grandmother on their mother's side in Elizabethtown, living with her from the time Jeff was convicted until Tyler's high school graduation. This was a better living situation for the kids, Tyler said.

"She [the grandmother] is a lot like my mother in the sense that she never places blame on anybody else. She never expects that people are going to step up and do anything for her, but at the same time she goes out of her way to help people," Tyler said. "She's probably the kindest and sweetest lady that I have ever known."

Tyler grew up fast, becoming a guardian figure for his sister, while being involved in legal processes and dealing with insurmountable tragedy from the age of 12. He lost his mother Aug. 18, 1997, his father was arrested Sept. 19, his grandfather died Oct. 22, and on Nov. 21 he was dragged out of school against his will and sent to live with family he didn't know. Despite this turbulent time, Tyler focused on his sister's needs.

"I kind of felt that it was my responsibility to make sure that somebody was looking out for her," Tyler said.

Tyler said he learned a lot from his childhood that he has taken into adulthood and having his own family.

He is wary of the flaws of his father that led him to make irreversible decisions. Tyler said Jeff tried to please too many people and was always stressed out. He was always concerned with his image and valued others based on their "use."

In contrast, Tyler said he tries to follow his mother's example. She taught him the value of service.

"Do things to be nice, not for the recognition, because that's what decent people do," Tyler said.

---

Jeannine

Jeannine was "selfless," Tyler said. "She was always very much the type that would go out of her way for people. She was extremely kind, caring and loved by all people."

After graduating as valedictorian from the Houston College of Pharmacy, Jeannine became a pharmacist in Elizabethtown, going the extra mile for the people she cared for. Tyler said she would often do prescription deliveries herself, driving several towns away on her own time to make sure people got medications in time.

She also cared deeply about her family, taking a pay cut to be with her kids more often.

Jeannine was also a friend of Pecararo, someone who showed him kindness when Jeff wouldn't. Tyler remembered one time when Pecararo had finished his work at their house in Lake Placid and Jeff told him to "start walking" the 25 miles back to his home in Tupper Lake.

"My mother felt bad for him and picked him up and brought him home," Tyler said. "And that's the person that ended up killing her."

Reminded of Jeannine's kindness in an empty dining hall in the Cayuga Correctional Facility, Pecararo began to tear up. Asked why he didn't stop Jeff or back out of the murder, Pecararo said he was paralyzed.

"I froze. I was in shock because of what he was doing," Pecararo said. "Their marriage was always on the rocks. He always talked, but he never did anything."

---

Pecararo

Pecararo was a well-known handyman, landscaping, logging and laboring all around the Tri-Lakes. He did work for Glanda and was a family friend, watching the kids grow up as he did odd jobs around the house. He often talked with Jeff about "girl problems," and listened to the married man's plots and desire to kill his wife.

"I guess one of the things that's always bothered me about the whole situation was that it's not like Nick was called up one day and handed the check and told, 'Hey, take care of this,'" Tyler said. "This is months and months of development. This is potentially years."

Several months before the murder, Jeff - who worked as a court stenographer for Essex County - sat in his living room and asked Pecararo to help him kill Jeannine because they were getting a divorce and he did not want to give up his money and have partial custody of their two children. Pecararo said he was overwhelmed with thoughts, telling Jeff to "shut up" and saying it was a bad idea.

Jeff took him on a ride toward Plattsburgh. He offered Pecararo $10,000 if he agreed to assist him, laying out his plan and scanning the roadside for a spot to stage an accident.

Every time Pecararo visited after that, Jeff continued to talk about his murderous plans, offering a new pickup truck, a four-wheeler and a snowmobile on top of the 10 grand. Jeff wore Pecararo down, and he agreed.

Pecararo said he does not know why he agreed to join Jeff in his murder.

"He was very manipulating, very good at what he does," Pecararo said. "I already had all that stuff. I don't need any of that."

On Aug. 18, 1997, Jeff and Pecararo waited in Jeannine's home for her to return home. When she did, they attacked her and drowned her with water taken from Upper Cascade Lake between Lake Placid and Keene. They then put her body in her sport-utility vehicle and drove it into the same lake to make the drowning look like an accident.

The cover-up, though initially convincing, fell apart under police scrutiny. Jeannine's autopsy showed signs of manual strangulation as well as drowning. There were no tire skid marks at the scene of the crash. Jeannine was wearing just one shoe, and her jeans were not properly buttoned, as if they had been put on while she was unconscious.

Pecararo was identified as a suspect, and after being picked up by troopers on a bus in Glens Falls, agreed to cooperate in arresting Jeff. He called Jeff from a gas station parking lot in Saranac Lake. When Jeff arrived to the sight of police cars, Jeff fled, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended with him ramming the car of Lake Placid police Sgt. Michael St. Louis at nearly 80 miles per hour and injuring him. For that, Jeff was later found guilty of attempted murder in a separate trial.

Pecararo never went to trial. He took a plea deal to lower his sentence from 25 to life to 20 to life in exchange for him testifying against Jeff.

At Pecararo's sentencing, Judge Thomas Moynihan referred to him as another of Jeff's victims.

"I didn't do what I was supposed to do anyway. I backed off. I couldn't do it," Pecararo said. "He did what he did, and then I took the body and I hid it, like an idiot."

Pecararo agrees with the judge's sentiment that he was a victim, but Tyler said he found the idea comical.

"That to me was one of the most despicable statements you can make," Tyler said. "What kind of professional would step up and say that? I think people give too much credit to mental health disorders when it comes to that."

Pecararo has maintained for years that he was wrongly charged with second-degree murder. He says he only helped move Jeannine's body, and was present but did not participate in killing her.

Though in his original confession he describes in detail tackling Jeannine, holding her down by her neck until unconscious and then drowning her with the water from Upper Cascade Lake, his account changed as the investigation and trial went on. He gradually distanced himself from the act of murder as the possibility of a death sentence was discussed in the trial, shifting from the role of accomplice to helper. Pecararo explained the reasons for his multiple stories when testifying in Jeff's trial, saying he was trying to protect Jeff some times and that he was afraid of him other times.

Today, Pecararo says Jeff tackled Jeannine, held her down and poured the water into her mouth. He says he only carried the jugs and Jeannine's body.

Pecararo told Judge Moynihan and the appeals court judges that he tried to perform CPR on her right after she went unconscious.

"I was trying to revive the person, and I don't know how to do that," Pecararo said. "Maybe I did some damage while pushing down on the chest because I didn't know how to do that.

"I tried pouring the water over her face, trying to revive her by getting her into a shock. It didn't work."

Pecararo has filed motions to vacate his judgment, citing several reasons, including having a lawyer who had been disbarred, being misled in his plea deal and withholding of evidence of police brutality. The News has not been able to substantiate these claims.

Among these claims, Pecararo says he was forced at gunpoint by state police to call Glanda and say "things" at the Mobil gas station in Saranac Lake.

"There were three of them, and they all had guns on me, telling me what to say and what not to say," Pecararo said.

Pecararo also said he believed he was pleading to a manslaughter charge, not to second-degree murder. He signed a waiver to waive his right to appeal the verdict because he said the Essex County district attorney at the time, Ronald Briggs, misled him into signing his guilty plea.

"My lawyer [Benjamin Conley] stepped off, and the DA stepped in and told me it was a manslaughter charge I was signing," Pecararo said. "I thought it was a manslaughter charge."

Many times during the trial Pecararo was confused by questions asked of him, records show. Pecararo also said he unknowingly waived his right to appeal, saying Briggs brought the waiver to him to sign without explaining it properly.

Though Pecararo is currently in Cayuga at a medium-security prison, he has been through maximum-security prisons around the state, including Sing Sing and Comstock for two years each.

"In the maxes they're on you day in and day out," Pecararo said. "They come to your cell and mess with you. They mess with you on the way out to the yard. They're gonna slam you on the wall, kick your feet out from underneath you. There's a lot of abuse there."

Pecararo said after nearly two decades in the hardest prisons in the state, he is no longer the same person he was before.

"I've turned bitter," Pecararo said. "I used to help a lot of people out."

Pecararo has also changed how he views Jeff, who he previously looked up to as a father.

"He's a piece of [excrement]," Pecararo said.

Pecararo said if he is ever able to see Tyler again, "I would say sorry, but sorry isn't going to bring the person back."

 
 

 

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