Alumnus accused of strangling Marriott
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
When SAFC Chief Financial Officer Justin Ykema went into work at Best Buy in Portsmouth on Friday, Oct. 12, it was just a normal day, one of many he said blended together during his time at the electronics store.
Ykema had a conversation with his co-worker, Seth Mazzaglia, who worked in the video-game department, and who had asked whether or not he had played “Mists of Pandaria,” an expansion set of the popular role-playing game “World of Warcraft.”
Ykema replied he hadn’t, because he had just gotten a girlfriend and didn’t have time for it.
“It was generally the conversation [we] would have … super friendly guy,” Ykema said.
The next day, Mazzaglia, a UNH alum, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Elizabeth “Lizzi” Marriott, a 19-year-old commuter student who was reported missing last Tuesday.
The charge against Seth Mazzaglia alleges he “recklessly caused the death of Elizabeth Marriott … under circumstances manifested in extreme indifference to the value of human life by strangling her and/or suffocating her,” Judge Stephen Morrison said at Mazzaglia’s arraignment Monday morning.
Days after his arrest, a picture has begun to emerge of the 29-year-old actor, well known in the community as a performer, martial artist and teacher.
“He was super nerdy, geeky,” Ykema said. “Other than this situation, obviously, I would have nothing bad to say about the guy. And I don’t think anyone else would either. He’s like, the nicest guy you could possibly meet. And he’d be the kind of guy you’d want to work with.”
Many in the theater community have expressed surprise in the aftermath of Mazzaglia’s arrest, with some alleging that they did not think he would be capable of murder.
Kathy Fink, who owns the Kathy Fink Piano Studio in Dover, has known Mazzaglia since 2004, working with him as an actor, choreographer and teacher. She has watched him perform frequently in the past eight years at area theaters, and said she considers him a friend.
“I have always known him to be friendly, patient and caring and extremely competent in many areas,” Fink said. “I watched him perform last weekend at Apple Harvest Day and we exchanged hugs.”
Fink and Mazzaglia worked together in 2005 instructing local teenagers in the Teen Actors Workshop in Dover, and producing “Man of La Mancha” that same summer.
“Needless to say, the allegations against him are shocking and unexpected,” Fink said.
On his website, sjmazzaglia.com, which was recently taken down, Mazzaglia describes himself as an experienced actor, writer and fight choreographer who has been working both professionally and non-professionally in southern New Hampshire theaters for many years.
A resume taken from Mazzaglia’s profile on exploretalent.com lists his theater credits at UNH to include: Jim Bayliss in “All My Sons,” Antonio in “Much Ado About Nothing,” and Philoctetes in “Cure at Troy.”
He was also in a summer production of “The Tempest” on Appledore Island in Maine directed by UNH professor David Richman.
The UNH Department of Theatre and Dance did not wish to comment to TNH on the ongoing investigation, but offered its condolences toward Marriott’s family.
“We join all of the UNH community in expressing our heartfelt sympathy for the victim’s family,” said David Kaye, the chairman of the department.
Kaye told The Associated Press Monday that he had once taught Mazzaglia in an acting class, and that Mazzaglia had been a hardworking student who had a special interest in stage combat.
“Everybody is sort of reeling from all of this news,” he said.
According to his website, Mazzaglia had most recently finished performing as Captain Geller in the Garrison Players’ production of “The Miracle Worker,” one of many productions he has participated in with the theater troupe.
Though active in the stage theater community, Mazzaglia was interested in breaking into the film business. He wrote on his website that he has been spending his time writing, auditioning and contemplating his next projects, which “he hopes will bring him closer to his goal of working in film.”
On his modeling website, www.exploretalent.com/sethmazzaglia, he wrote, “I am primarily a stage actor currently based out of Dover, N.H. with dance experience, who is looking to break into film. I have some experience writing and directing as well, and in my spare time enjoy teaching martial arts and practicing ballroom dance.”
The town of Kittery, Maine’s website states that Mazzaglia assisted with a martial arts program offered through the town’s recreation department, according to an article published by The Portsmouth Herald.
On the website for Kittery Kenshin Kan Karate Dojo, Mazzaglia is listed as being an instructor. The site has since been taken down, but had reported that Mazzaglia began training with the school in 1992, achieving his black belt status in 1997. This was confirmed by martial arts instructor Robert Modee in an interview with Foster’s Daily Democrat.
Despite the charges against Mazzaglia, those who knew him said they are not quick to jump to a conviction.
“I will give him the benefit of the doubt until the entire story is learned,” Fink said.