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May 04, 2022

Eviction battle preceded Bucks County mom allegedly shooting her two sons

A vigil Tuesday night honored the boys, 9 and 13, who are not expected to survive the tragedy in Upper Makefield

Investigations Shootings
Nguyen Bucks Upper Makefield Provided image/Bucks County D.A.'s Office

Trinh Nguyen, 38, was going to be evicted from the Upper Makefield duplex where Bucks County prosecutors say she shot her sons on Monday morning. Nguyen owed more than $11,500 to her landlord, who had a court order to evict her from the property the day after the shooting.

The Bucks County woman accused of shooting her two children at their home in Upper Makefield, critically wounding both boys, had been facing eviction and owed thousands of dollars in back rent and court costs, according to court documents.

Trinh Nguyen, 38, is charged with attempted homicide and related crimes for the incident that took place early Monday morning at a duplex in the 100 block of Timber Ridge Road. Police said she allegedly shot her sons, 13-year-old Jeffrey "JT" Tini and 9-year-old Nelson Tini, each in their heads while they slept.

The boys remained on life support Wednesday in order to donate their organs and Nguyen ultimately will be charged with murder. 

Nguyen was disarmed by her landlord's 22-year-old son, who wrestled the gun away from her after she tried to shoot him outside the duplex, police said. The gun failed to fire twice. Nguyen then fled in her van, briefly crossing into New Jersey before she returned to the area and was arrested hours later in the parking lot of Washington Crossing United Methodist Church.

When Nguyen was taken into custody on Monday, investigators said she was under the influence of undisclosed drugs that she had taken to try to end her life.

The two boys, both Council Rock School District students, were remembered Tuesday night during a vigil at the Washington Crossing church.

Susan Elliott, Council Rock's acting superintendent of schools, shared the community's "shock and disbelief" about the shootings in a message on Facebook. Elliott said counselors and other support staff are available at the schools the boys attended, Newtown Middle School and Sol Feinstone Elementary School.

"This tragic event has a significant and heart-wrenching impact on our Council Rock community," Elliott said. "We know that parents, students, staff, and members of our community will process this tragedy in different ways and different paces."

Bucks County prosecutors have not yet laid out a motive for Nguyen to target her children, but details have begun to emerge about the months' long dispute she had with her landlord and former sister-in-law, who lived in the adjoining home next door.

Documents obtained from Bucks County Court detail a civil case brought against Nguyen by Corrina Tini-Melchiondo, who had purchased the duplex in July 2012 with her brother — Nguyen's ex-husband, Edward Tini. Nguyen and Tini moved into the property around that time and later got married.

Corrina Tini-Melchiondo resides in the adjoining property with her son, Gianni Melchiando, the man who wrestled the gun from Nguyen on Monday morning.

For nearly nine years, Nguyen and Tini lived together in their portion of the property with JT and Nelson, who have different fathers. The older boy, JT, is one of two sons Nguyen had during her previous marriage. Only Nelson is Tini's biological son, but both boys at the Upper Makefield property took Tini's name.

The legal dispute over the duplex began in the months after Nguyen and Tini divorced last March.

After Tini moved out of the duplex last spring, the two boys remained there with their mother. Nguyen had no ownership stake in the property, but was permitted to maintain a month-to-month lease as part of a property settlement reached last June. She was expected to pay rent and other expenses while she temporarily lived at the duplex and made plans to find a new home.

Court documents show that Nguyen stopped paying rent and other agreed-upon expenses last July. She had racked up $11,502.13 in costs owed to Tini-Melchiando, who initiated eviction proceedings and had obtained a court order last month to remove Nguyen from the property on May 3, the day after the shooting.

Trinh Nguyen Bucks CountyCourtesy/Bucks County D.A.'s Office

Trinh Nguyen

During the months Nguyen failed to pay her rent, Tini-Melchiando's attorney wrote that Nguyen "engaged in threatening and verbally abusive behavior" toward the landlord, including dropping dog feces near her front door, according to legal documents obtained by the Bucks County Courier Times.

Tini-Melchiondo's attorney further claimed that financial arrangements from the divorce settlement with Tini should have left Nguyen with enough money to cover the contingent expenses for her temporary residence at the property. Nguyen was told to leave the duplex by the end of last October, but she refused to do so and Tini-Melchiondo filed eviction proceedings in November.

Nguyen is being held at the Bucks County Correctional Facility ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled on May 16, according to court documents.

A spokesperson for the Bucks County District Attorney's office said Wednesday that more information about the case will be released to the public as the investigation continues.