Reversing a 45-year-old ruling that her death was accidental, Waterbury, Conn., police announced that the mother of actor Dylan McDermott was the victim of a homicide.

In a two-part story Sunday and Monday in the city's Republican-American newspaper, police Superintendent Michael Gugliotti said officials reopened the cold case last year at the request of "The Practice" star McDermott, 50.

Police now say Diane McDermott, who died of a gunshot wound in February 1967 when her son was 5 years old, was killed by her live-in boyfriend John Sponza, who had ties to organized crime. He told police she had taken the gun from a table in the kitchen while he was cleaning it. Sponza himself was found shot to death in 1972.

Dylan McDermott has not commented on the new findings. His sister Robin Herrera said: "I'm happy to know my mother wasn't mentally ill or depressed. Somebody took her from us; she didn't leave us," according to The Associated Press.

Gugliotti told the newspaper he had asked McDermott why the actor requested the reinvestigation after so long. "His answer was quite profound," Gugliotti said. "He said, 'In order for me to survive and to get where I am today, I needed to bury that moment in my life deep within myself.' He said, 'It wasn't until recently that I've come to the point in my life where I'm able to begin to process all of this.' "

The state's medical examiner reviewed the autopsy report and determined that a gun found near the body was too small a caliber to have created the wound and that the murder weapon had been pressed to the back of her head.

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