The Virginia man suspected in the slaying of Clymer School Superintendent Keith L. Reed Jr. tried to visit him at his school district office just hours before the shooting, law enforcement and school officials said Tuesday.
A man fitting the description of Anthony Robert "Rob" Taglianetti II arrived at the school at about 12:30 p.m. Sept. 21, according to Edward Bailey, acting superintendent of the Clymer Central School District.
"He was escorted to the front office, and he asked for an application for a substitute teaching position," Bailey said of the visitor.
The man took the form but did not fill it out.
"That's when he asked to talk to the superintendent," Bailey said.
Reed's secretary told the visitor that Reed was not in the office but that she could answer any questions he may have. The man asked her a few questions and then left, Bailey said.
He added that the man never identified himself by name.
It was not until Reed's body was found outside his home that the secretary began to suspect that "this was a strange encounter." Law enforcement officials believe that Reed, 51, was shot to death that Friday night when he returned to his home on Clymer-Sherman Road. His body was found three days later in a field on his property, about 150 feet from his home.
The incident at the school was reported to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office early last week as investigators were searching for Reed's killer.
The school district turned over images from the school surveillance camera that showed the man coming to visit, Bailey said.
Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace said the images appear to show Taglianetti, who was arrested Friday in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia by members of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force. "We believe it was him," Gerace said.
Bailey said "normal visitor protocol" was followed when the man believed to be Taglianetti came to the school. "He was escorted to the front office," Bailey said.
The school district, with an enrollment of 458 students, does not have metal detectors, and there were no situations in the past when they would have been warranted, Bailey said. But he added: "I'm very happy we had security cameras."
Bailey said the Sheriff's Office has assured school officials that the homicide "was an isolated situation" that didn't directly involve the school. But the fact that the suspected shooter very likely got into the school in search of Reed shows "that no matter how secure you try to be with our exterior exits and entrances, something like this can happen if someone has bad intentions," Bailey acknowledged.
In the meantime, the school district held a memorial service for Reed, a divorced father of three daughters, who had come to the district last fall.
Taglianetti was being held in a Prince William County, Va., jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for late October.
Gerace said investigators are busy piecing together the case. Over the weekend, they found a handgun in Taglianetti's car and were trying to determine whether it was the weapon used by Reed's killer.
"Other evidence" that links Taglianetti to the crime scene has been found, Gerace said, but he declined to give details.