This post considers further the problem of the argument between my brother and then Salamanca police officer Mark Marowski at the Holy Cross Athletic Club on September 22, 2003. As mentioned in previous posts (September 22, 2010, and July 28, 2011), the New York State Police investigator glossed over this issue, even though Ofc. Marowski called in after a personal argument to have my brother arrested for DWI on his way home to Great Valley and the very next day he was found burning to death in the field across from his house.
The facts—not least the wounds to my brother's head, the pool of his blood found on his driveway, his skin doused with gasoline, his truck backed down from his long driveway about fifty feet into the field, and the gas can found on the floor of the passenger's side of the truck--strongly suggest that more than one person was involved in Mark's death. Just under 6 feet in height, my brother typically weighed about 170 pounds and was very muscular; he could have fought back against a single attacker even if he had been drinking. It was all the more important, then, for the State Police investigator to look carefully into all individuals who might have had hostility toward or a grudge against Mark. There couldn't have been too many: shortly after his death, when I asked some of his friends if my brother had any enemies, they could hardly believe I had even posed such a question because in their opinion he was very well liked.
To resolve the issue of the nature and extent of the argument between Mark and Ofc. Marowski and to make it clear that they were not favoring a fellow law enforcement officer, the State Police should certainly have interviewed the members of the Holy Cross Club present during that quarrel. When I met with current Cattaraugus County D.A. Lori Rieman in 2010, former Sr. Inv. John Ensell (Inv. Kalfas’s immediate superior at the time of the truck fire) claimed that, according to Holy Cross Club members there, it had not been much of an argument. But that statement conflicts with what Inv. Kalfas told Atty. Michael Kelly in 2005. The State Police investigator acknowledged that he had not questioned Holy Cross Club members present at the time about the argument. At the meeting in 2010, Mr. Ensell also insisted that Marowski had been interviewed. However, neither an interview with Ofc. Marowski nor the altercation at the club is mentioned anywhere in the police report.
Furthermore, I have since learned that the incident the day before Mark’s truck fire was by no means the first time Ofc. Marowski and my brother had got into an argument at the Holy Cross Club. Quite the contrary: as I was told, they had argued many times. On that final occasion, my brother reportedly criticized the police action of arresting his son for DWI the previous week because Mark felt that circumstances involving the tragic death and funeral of a high school friend warranted leniency. From information I’ve learned recently, it appears that Mark’s son Brian was not stopped for DWI in Salamanca and that Marowski was thus not the arresting officer. (Ofc. Marowski apparently was not in the habit of making DWI arrests; in 2006, he himself was arrested for DWI and was forced to retire from the Salamanca police department.) But, as indicated in the post of December 27, 2012, I was told shortly after Mark’s death that the argument at the Holy Cross Club was heated and that after making the call to arrest Mark, Ofc. Marowski was overheard saying to someone on his cell phone, “It’s all taken care of.” Marowski reportedly also then quickly finished his drink and left in his car.
Because there are numerous unanswered questions surrounding that argument, all those present at the Holy Cross Club should have been interviewed. If it had been just a trivial spat, the Holy Cross Club members there would have had no problem making that clear. Yet I’ve spoken with numerous H.C.A.C. members, all of whom say that they were not there and cannot name anyone who was. Their reticence itself is telling, since some of these individuals at one time or another mentioned specifics about the argument and alluded to friends who had been there.
From comments made shortly after Mark’s death, it seems likely that Peter Rapacioli may have been present that day at the Holy Cross Club. I recently learned that he was a regular there in the period around Mark’s death. When I spoke with my brother’s long-time friend Jack Plonka in early November 2003, Jack said that he had heard about the argument between Mark and Marowski. He explained that Rapacioli had told his mother’s next-door neighbor about it and advised me to contact Rapacioli. Jack added that Rapacioli planned to read the police report on Mark’s death because he had a relative who was on the police force.
When I first tried calling Rapacioli, he was not at home. But I spoke with the woman who answered (apparently his girl friend). She told me specifically that Mark had argued with Marowski at the Holy Cross Club over his son Brian’s arrest for DWI. When I later reached Rapacioli himself, he did not refer to the argument at the Holy Cross Club. But then he also failed to mention that he had been on the phone for twenty-five minutes with Mark’s wife until she saw his truck on fire in the field and had to hang up to call 911 (see post of December 27, 2012). It is surprising that Rapacioli did not mention those two major points. He did say that when asked by the State Police how he would rate the likelihood that Mark had committed suicide, he replied that on a scale of one to ten, he would rate Mark’s chances of suicide as zero.
It is painful to accept the truth of Kathryn Krieger’s comment (see post of March 13, 2013) that people who knew what had happened to Mark (and what had taken place at the Holy Cross Club the day before) didn’t want to get involved. But in Salamanca and Great Valley, located as they are in rural Cattaraugus County, people tend to know each other and to be interconnected through family ties (as one person put it, “everyone you know is somebody else's cousin”) and through their jobs. I hope that some of those people remember that Mark was their friend, too.