UConn demotes department head overseeing work of slain professor

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A University of Connecticut medical official has been disciplined in the case of a professor who continued to receive payment for months after he was slain, the school announced on Wednesday.

Melinda Sanders, who was charged with monitoring the professor’s work, was stripped of her role as leader of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine as the result of an internal university review.

The investigation found that Melinda Sanders had no contact over several months with professor Pierluigi Bigazzi, 84, whose body was found on Feb. 5. Bigazzi’s wife has been charged with killing him and investigators say his body could have been inside their Burlington house for eight months.

Related: Warrant: Wife of slain doctor claimed self-defense

A report on the review said Sanders did not suspect anything was wrong until February even though months had passed without Bigazzi’s appearing on campus or responding to phone calls or emails. Sanders, who was paid $330,636 in 2017, will lose an annual stipend of $30,000 as a result of the demotion, the Hartford Courant reported.

Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UConn President Susan Herbst said the breakdown was the result of a failure of management.

“No employee may be absent from work, with no communication with their supervisor, for months at a time,” she said in a written statement. “That the department chair acted in such an irresponsible manner only compounds my distress over losing a fine professor so tragically.”

Related: Slain doctor’s body may have been in home for months

Bigazzi last taught a course during the 2017 spring semester and was supposed to be working on projects that included updating the medical school’s curriculum and academic instructional materials.

Bigazzi’s wife, Linda Kosuda-Bigazzi, is charged with murdering him. She wrote in a journal that it was self-defense, according to an arrest warrant.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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