Approximately fifteen minutes before ringing in the new year of 2018, Scott Kologi killed three members of his family as well as a close family friend on December 31, 2017.
16-year-old Scott lived with his family at 635 Wall Street in Long Branch, New Jersey with his parents, 42-year-old Linda & 44-year-old Steven Kologi, his brother, Steven Jr, an unnamed brother & his sister, 18-year-old Brittany. Scott’s grandpa, Adrian Kologi & his long-time companion, 70-year-old, Mary Schultz, also lived in the home; Scott referred to her as “grandmother Mary.”
Scott didn’t attend the same schools that his siblings did & was described as a child with special needs. He was fully functional & comprehended what was happening around him, but needed special assistance & was cared for by his mom.
On the night of New Year’s Eve, the Kologi family was ringing in 2018 at home. At the time, most everyone was present, including 18-year-old Brittany who was on Christmas break from her first semester at Stockton University in Galloway, NJ, about an hour away from home, as well as Steven Jr’s girlfriend, Rafaella Bonetempo. One of Scott’s other brothers was not home that night.
Grandfather, Adrian, remembers that everyone was “having a good time.” Shortly before midnight, Scott found a rifle that was legally registered to his brother Steven, an AK-47, & loaded it with bullets. He initially took the rifle outside, with the plan of shooting random people though changed his mind & came back inside at about 11:45pm. He went up to his room, put on a leather jacket & sunglasses. He put earplugs to protect his ears, knowing that the gun would be loud. It was later discovered that Scott researched if a weapon would be effective against police if they happened to respond wearing bulletproof vests.
Scott turned the lights out in his room, knowing his mom, Linda would come looking for him so they could all ring in the New Year together. Scott stood in the dark, not wanting his mom to see him with the gun; “I just didn’t want her to look at me. I think that would’ve snapped me out of it.” When she entered the room, he shot Linda five to seven times in the torso & chest. His father, Steven Sr, heard the gunshots & rushed upstairs & was immediately shot in the back.
Steven Jr testified during the trial that he watched his brother walking calmly down the stairs & entering the kitchen, carrying the assault rifle. As he entered the kitchen, Scott shot his sister, Brittany three times in the chest as she sat at the kitchen table & then his grandfather’s companion, Mary, was shot four times. As this was going on, Raffaella, Steven Jr’s girlfriend, hid behind the refrigerator & called 911 at 11:43pm.
Scott told detectives that he intended to kill more people though as he watched his grandfather fall to his knees & weep when grandmother Mary was shot, it made him feel “confused” which halted his rampage. Scott ended up firing 14 shots; Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Sean Brennan said, “These were acts of evil, carried out by someone who knew exactly what he was doing. He killed them because he could. He killed them because he wanted to.” Steven Jr, Raffaella & Adrian were able to escape physically unharmed though Linda, Steven Sr, Brittany & Mary were found deceased at the scene as police arrived.
Medical professionals testified that Scott displayed signs of schizophrenia & likely had a psychotic episode at the time of the murders. Family members, including grandfather, Adrian, spoke about how Scott had discussed killing his family in the past, saying that his grandson’s brain was “messed up” from a tumor & nerve damage from childbirth. He indicated that he tried to warn Steve & Linda that Scott had been obsessed with killing his family & that Scott was upset that he “ratted him out.”
The trial began on February 2, 2022 & concluded February 24, 2002. During that time, it was revealed that Scott had a half–brother, Jonathan Ruiz. Jonathon said that he considered Steven Kologi Sr as a father, despite the fact that there was no biological relationship. At the time of the murders, Jonathan had moved out of the Kologi home though still visited often & had a close relationship.
On that New Years Eve, Jonathan was at the Kologi home with his girlfriend who is now his wife, spending several hours with the family that evening, celebrating the new year. Jonathan left the house for a short time, going out to get Domino’s pizza, specifically for Scott. He said that the drive with his mom was happy & all-around, everyone was in good spirits that night. There were no arguments & everything seemed normal. Jonathan & his now wife, left early that night, to head to a friend’s house in Philadelphia; a decision that likely saved their lives.
When police arrived at the scene, Scott was calm & quickly confessed to the murders. 20-year-old Steven Jr acted as Scott’s guardian as he was interviewed by law enforcement. Steven Jr was forced to sit in the interrogation room with Scott & detectives as Scott calmly explained how he killed each of his four family members, Steven struggling to maintain his composure, breaking down & sobbing, even throwing a cup across the room after Scott was taken away on a bathroom break. Scott said, “When everything was happening, I felt like I was watching it like I was further back in my mind. I just kept firing until they, like, stopped moving.” He told detectives that he aimed at his victim’s heads when they continued to move, “I didn’t want them to be in pain at the same time.” He said that he knew right from wrong & said, “I doubt I would do it again, but I’m not sure.”
He said that he put 30 bullets in each of the two magazines so that he could continue shooting until he ran out of bullets; he had never used a gun before & watched online videos beforehand. He told detectives that he considered continuing his murder spree outside, specifically to shoot a neighbor who bullied him while growing up. He told detectives that he doesn’t have friends or a girlfriend & still sleeps with his parents. He admitted that he had been thinking about hurting his family off and on for the past year. He said he suffered from mood swings, feeling happy one minute & upset the next.
During the interview, police asked Scott if he felt like himself & he responded, “Yeah, that’s the strange thing. It’s not, like, affecting me.” When they asked him how he felt about his parents, he told them that they were good parents & he loved them. Despite being only 16 at the time of the murders, Scott’s case was moved out of family court & he was tried as an adult.
During the trial, Scott’s defense said that he was in a dissociative state when he shot & murdered his family & made a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. His legal guardian hired a psychologist, Dr Maureen Santina, who said he was insane at the time. Scott had experienced hallucinations leading up to the murders that had become more frequent & intense as time passed. He experienced desires to hurt others & told Dr Santina that he did speak with his mom about these intrusive thoughts, but his mom instructed that if he ignored these thoughts, they would just go away. He also became paranoid, believing that his family was out to hurt him. His lawyers indicated that he suffered from a severe developmental disability & acted as if he was at a much younger age. Half-brother Jonathon that Scott displayed a “greater disparity in his mental abilities” as he got older. He indicated that his mother needed to dress Scott & that he often slept in bed with his parents.
The week before the murder spree, Scott said he saw a woman laying in bed with him & that she seemed to be human though “her eyes turned red & she had long, sharp teeth & then turned black as if she was being burnt up.” He told Dr Santina that on the morning of the murders, he felt off & while he showered, he heard a voice say, “Welcome to the side of evil.”
Dr Santina told jurors that she believes Scott was experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, pointing out statements Scott made during his interview with police, immediately after the murders; he stated he was on autopilot & felt like he was watching a movie. Dr Santina indicated to the jury that she diagnosed Scott with early onset schizophrenia.
Dr. Park Dietz, on the prosecution side, told the jury that Scott was not schizophrenic but had an autistic spectrum disorder. He felt that the hallucinations Scott experienced on the night of the murders, does not warrant a diagnosis of schizophrenia as he experienced them for a short period of time vs. consistently as someone with schizophrenia would. He also pointed out that while Scott was incarcerated, the prison staff did not feel he could benefit from taking antipsychotic medication. Also, during his police interview, he was asked if he was experiencing paranoia & he said “no.”
While Dr Park testified, he said that he believes that Scott experienced times that he felt mistreated or bullied on multiple occasions. This caused him to build up tension which lead to the murders of his family.
Scott’s attorneys argued that his severe mental illness led him to kill his family & asked for thirty years, saying, “He’s a mentally ill child who begged his mother for help & never got it.” Testimony during the trial indicated that Linda didn’t want Scott to tell his therapist that he thought about killing people because she was afraid he would be hospitalized. Jury deliberations began on February 24, 2022 at 9:30am & the verdict was read about 3pm; Scott was found guilty on four counts of murder with an extra charge of having a weapon unlawfully. He will be eligible for parole in 127 years & six months. The intention of the court was that Scott never see the light of the outside of a jail cell ever again.
Steven Jr, who survived that night, shared a tribute his parents on social media, encouraging people
“To give the ones you love an extra kiss or I love you.” He posted to Instagram that he had “the greatest parents I could ask for. Never once was I without a hot meal or a roof over my head. They made sure Christmas came every year although they struggled financially. I cannot even describe the type of people they were, so just believe me when I say how great they were.” “As for my sister, she was so beautiful and smart. I just wish I could tell all of them how much they meant to me & how much I truly loved each & every one of them because I didn’t do that enough.” Those that knew Linda & Steve described them as loving parents who were exceptionally dedicated to Scott.
Mary Schultz was described by her sister as quiet though thoughtful and caring with a heart as big as the universe. Mary had been retired since 2010 after working as a human resource specialist for T&M Engineering. She was a very active woman, acting in community theater as well as focusing on family & local genealogy. During Mary’s funeral service the priest, Father Freer spoke: “The curtain went down far too soon and too suddenly for Mary Ann. You may have wished for another encore in her life but you do have the chance to give her the ovation she so rightly deserved” With that, everyone in the church stood & clapped, celebrating her life that her brother says was well-lived.
- New Jersey 101.5: Long Branch Slayings: My Grandson Was Obsessed With Killing His Family
- Odd Murders & Mysteries: Scott Kologi Murders Family on New Year’s Eve, 2017
- New York Post: Brother of teen who allegedly slaughtered family pens tribute to parents, sister
- New York Post: Woman slain in New Year’s Eve quadruple murder gets final ovation
- New York Post: NJ man Scott Kologi sentenced to 150 years for killing 4 family members in 2017
- Law & Crime: Accused Quadruple Murderer Still Slept in His Parent’s Bed & Believed in Santa When He Massacred Family at the Age of 16, Brother Tearfully Testifies
- People: Teen Who Massacred His Family with Rifle Just Before New Year’s Ball Dropped Gets 150 Years
- App.com: Long Branch teen describes killing his family: “It’s like nothing happened.”
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