This post concerns the results of a discussion I had last summer by telephone with the current N. Y. S. P. Captain of Troop A, Steven Nigrelli, following a complaint I had made by letter to the N. Y. S. P. Internal Affairs office about the investigation into my brother’s death. Capt. Nigrelli agreed to go over my list of complaints and then stated that he would have N. Y. S. P. personnel look into certain issues further. I received a response from him by e-mail on January 14 with a summary of their findings and a statement that the New York State Police would not be re-opening Mark’s case.
One particular point about life insurance appears to have been resolved, namely that prior to his death Mark himself had cashed in two policies he had taken out with Prudential. However, most of the points made in the e-mail are far more problematic. I quote the e-mail verbatim (italicized, with e-mail addresses deleted from the “header” information) and then comment on specific items.
Subject: Re: Mark Pavlock case
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2015 15:00:48 -0500
From: Steven Nigrelli
To: Barbara Pavlock
- NYSP SP Olean BCI interviewed Mark Marowski regarding this incident and his relationship with your brother Mark and his wife Susan. He stated that he knew both Mark and Susan since they all grew up in the area. He denied any romantic relationship with Susan Pavlock. Interview of Marowski regarding his knowledge of the incident surrounding Mark's death, with no new information developed. During the course of the interview with Marowski, nothing was noted to be suspicious or contradictory in the interview.
LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES:
- On 11/11/14, Prudential Life Insurance Policy verifying that there were two policies in existence for policy owner, Mark Pavlock. One policy was surrendered for its cash value in 1993 and the second was surrendered for its cash value in 2001. Both of these policies were surrendered prior to the initial case report of 9/23/03. No policy amounts were provided. No other life insurance policies found to exist other then the ones previously addressed in the report. As stated previously, information requests were sent to over 1,000 insurance agencies nationwide via NYSIC with no evidence of other policies in existence found.
- On 01/15/15, after numerous attempts to contact him, SP Olean BCI telephonically interviewed your nephew, Thomas McKenna, who currently lives in Pinellas Park, Florida and is also the nephew of your brother Mark.. Mr. McKenna stated that he was visiting Mark and Susan a few months prior to his death. McKenna stated he sensed that there was tension among Mark and his wife (Susan), but nothing that he recalls that would be a nexus to killing him. McKenna thought that the tension was due to Mark's alcohol problems and the possibility that it was causing their son to have alcohol problems as well. Mr. McKenna said that since it was a small community, suspicions were prevalent but nothing was ever substantiated to indicate foul play. Mr. McKenna thought that Susan Pavlock's body language was odd at the hospital but nothing more than that. He couldn't provide anything of any value that would reopen this case.
FIRST RESPONDER - GARY WING
SP OLean BCI interviewed First Responder at the scene, Gary Wind, who could not offer any other specific memories other than previously provided or any evidence to prove foul play.
BLOOD IN DRIVEWAY
As previously reported, the blood found on the driveway, the report and lab analysis was conclusive that it was in fact the victims blood - Mark Pavlock. The Medical Examiners Office stated that this loss of blood was consistent with the victims health status and level of intoxication.
As promised, the NYSP Troop "A" BCI have investigated the leads/rumors that you have brought to our attention. As noted above, all leads have been investigated and exhausted without developing any evidence to support any claim that Mark's death was nothing more than a tragic accident. Due to these reasons, the NYSP will not be reopening the investigation into your brother, Mark Pavlock's death.
Thank you for all your understanding and assistance in this matter.
Captain Steven Nigrelli
On the interview with Mark Marowski: In my conversation with Capt. Nigrelli in August, I brought up my concern that Ofc. Mark Marowski might have been involved in my brother’s death, yet he had not been investigated even though he had got my brother arrested for DWI after a personal argument. Shortly afterwards when I received the anonymous letter claiming that Marowski had been having an affair with my brother’s wife, I e-mailed the Captain a copy. Yet the Olean BCI interviewer apparently was not concerned that Ofc. Marowski simply acknowledged his acquaintance with both Mark and Susan as “they all grew up in the area,” without admitting that he had had numerous arguments with my brother at the Holy Cross Club and had even boasted of getting him arrested for DWI. The BCI interviewer also apparently just accepted Marowski’s word that he had not had a “romantic relationship” with Susan. The observation that “nothing was noted to be suspicious or contradictory in the interview” does not mean very much, especially if Marowski was not asked to account for his known problematic behavior, particularly in relation to my brother.
On the life insurance issue: The fact that only the two insurance policies originally discovered during the investigation were reported in the recent NYSIC search request leaves questions unanswered. Retired N. Y. S. P. Sr. Inv. John Ensell’s claim that the two policies my brother’s wife received were worth only $17,000 in total seems hard to believe. Yet Capt. Nigrelli’s statement in the e-mail neither confirms nor denies that figure. In addition, several insurance agents have informed me that it is possible to conceal insurance policies, especially because there are a lot of small companies out there. Furthermore, no bank records were checked during the investigation or afterwards.
On the interview of Tom McKenna (the date for which is mistakenly listed as 1/15/15 instead of 1/14/15): This section of Capt. Nigrelli’s e-mail is quite disturbing because it appears to be an inaccurate account of the interview as my nephew himself explained it to me. Although the BCI interviewer claims that “Mr. McKenna stated that he was visiting Mark and Susan a few months prior to his death.” Tom said it was a month before Mark's death. More important, the BCI interviewer claims that “McKenna stated he sensed that there was tension among Mark and his wife (Susan).” Yet, according to Tom, he actually told the interviewer that Susan kept glaring at Mark. Tom also said that he added the remark “If looks could kill!” Tom also stated to me that he did not make the remark “nothing that he recalls that would be a nexus to killing him [i.e., Mark].”
In the following sentence, the BCI interviewer appears to be seriously distorting my nephew’s words: “McKenna thought that the tension was due to Mark's alcohol problems and the possibility that it was causing their son to have alcohol problems as well.” According to Tom, he actually told the interviewer that although my brother had clearly been drinking on that particular day, he had never seen Mark intoxicated before and that he thought Susan blamed Mark for their son Brian getting a DWI and thus for Brian's drinking problems.
The BCI interviewer appears to be expanding on Tom’s actual words and adding his own interpretation in the following sentence: “Mr. McKenna said that since it was a small community, suspicions were prevalent but nothing was ever substantiated to indicate foul play.” According to Tom, he did say that in that rural area everyone knew everyone's business, but he did not say that “suspicions were prevalent but nothing was ever substantiated to indicate foul play.”
Finally, the BCI interviewer appears to be improperly paraphrasing my nephew in the following sentence: “Mr. McKenna thought that Susan Pavlock's body language was odd at the hospital but nothing more than that.” According to Tom, he actually said that when he got to the waiting room at the burn unit, Susan was laughing and his mother was crying.
On the interview of Gary Wind, the first responder at the scene: The single sentence summarizing that interview appears not to do justice to Gary Wind’s remarks. When I asked Gary Wind if that sentence accurately summarized his comments to the BCI interviewer, he said that, by contrast, he mentioned at least two of his own direct observations concerning the truck fire (not in his witness statement) and that he revealed something potentially relevant which he had heard from another individual.
On the blood found in Mark’s driveway: The explanation provided in Capt. Nigrelli’s e-mail seems very superficial. The conclusion that, according to the Medical Examiner's Office, “this loss of blood was consistent with the victims [sic] health status and level of intoxication” is both inaccurate in content and questionable in the conclusion drawn. First of all, the autopsy report makes no reference to any health issues on my brother’s part. Second, as I have pointed out to the investigating authorities on numerous occasions, M. E. Baik’s claim to Inv. Kalfas that Mark’s (alleged) high blood alcohol level might have caused a nosebleed, which could thus have been the source of the pool of blood on Mark’s driveway, was vigorously questioned by Dr. Edward Piotrowski, my brother’s attending physician at the burn unit, and by other prominent scientists. As one scientist put it, an individual would have to have one of a few specific underlying medical conditions, which Mark did not have, for alcohol to cause a nosebleed.
I’ll leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions about the actions by the New York State Police summarized in Capt. Nigrelli’s e-mail. What does this material suggest about the original investigation into my brother’s suspicious death?