Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Problems Concerning the Former Railroaders

This post considers puzzling and problematic statements relevant to my brother’s death made by members of a group of former railroaders that had also included Mark.  As I have been told, during their period of employment on the railroad, these individuals routinely had drinks together and were in some ways a close-knit group.  That kind of socializing has apparently continued to some degree to this day, long after their employment with the railroad ceased.

At the time of Mark’s death, the railroad group included the following: Jim Poole, Gary Subulski, Jack Plonka, Bill Lewis, Jim Wright, Pete Rapacioli, and Eugene Woodworth.  Poole, Subulski, Plonka, and Lewis, who were close to my brother in age and had thus known him from their school days, remained close friends.  Lewis, however, had moved to suburban Buffalo and thus did not see Mark on a regular basis.  Wright was a few years older and, according to Jim Poole, a more recent friend.  Woodworth, a neighbor of Marks’s on Whalen Road in Great Valley, was considerably older but still had connections with my brother: as he informed me, he shared a wood splitter with Mark and Jack Plonka and sometimes saw my brother socially.  Rapacioli was also several years older than Mark but worked with him on a football pool and in little league baseball.  Unfortunately, Jim Poole and Jim Wright are now also deceased.

Pete Rapacioli has previously been the subject of discussion on this blog.  Of particular concern is the phone conversation that he allegedly had with my brother’s wife Susan for nearly half an hour immediately before Mark’s truck fire.  Another problematic issue is his claim that his daughter and her husband (the brother of a veteran Salamanca police officer), who were nearby neighbors of Mark’s, had slept through the entire incident of the fire, in spite of the noise of sirens and of the Medivac helicopter (see esp. posts of May 15, 2013, June 26, 2013, and April 19, 2014).  Furthermore, when I informed him that his cousin and fellow railroader Jack Plonka had mentioned that Pete planned to read the police report through a relative on the force, Rapacioli claimed to be unable to recall who his relative on the police force could have been (see post of June 26, 2013).

Another issue concerns Rapacioli's silence about the argument between my brother and Salamanca police officer Mark Marowski that resulted in Marowski calling in to have Mark arrested for DWI.  When he called me in June 2013 to complain about being mentioned on my blog, I brought up the subject of that argument at the Holy Cross Club.  Rapacioli had nothing to say about it and insisted that he had not been present at the club during that argument.  Yet the woman who answered the phone when I called Rapacioli in November 2003 said that Pete had told her very specifically about that argument.  In addition, I was recently told that Rapacioli knew Ofc. Mark Marowski very well, as both of them frequented the Holy Cross Club and other social clubs in Salamanca.

When I talked to Gary Subulski not long after Mark’s death, he mentioned what a good friend my brother had been and how much help Mark had given him when he was undergoing cancer treatments.  He told me to feel free to call if I thought there was anything he could do.  Much later, he mentioned that he had visited my brother’s grave a number of times and noticed the flowers I had planted.  He also said that he was glad that I was continuing to try and get justice for Mark.  My cousin Dennis Pavlock mentioned that Gary had relayed specific information to him about the argument between Mark and Marowski at the Holy Cross Club the day before the truck fire.  Yet Gary insisted to me that he had not been present at the time of the argument with Marowski and that he would have told me if he had been.

However, a few days after I put up a post on the problematic phone call to me from Pete Rapacioli in June 2013, I called Gary and told him that I had a question about Rapacioli.  Gary immediately shouted that he was busy and abruptly hung up the phone on me.  Needless to say, his reaction was completely unexpected and seemed very much out of character.  Had someone told him about my post on Rapacioli?  If so, why would that have mattered, since I reported only the facts about the phone call that formed the substance of my post?

Another member of the railroad group, Eugene Woodworth, made statements about Mark’s truck fire that raise serious concerns.  A previous post (July 28, 2014) discusses contradictions by Mark’s neighbor about the night of the truck fire to then church secretary Judy Bess and to me when I called Woodworth after talking to Judy.  I remain especially concerned about Woodworth’s reported comment to Judy that he had heard a commotion and screams on Mark’s property shortly before my brother’s truck went down the driveway and into the field, where it burst into flames.  Those details do not appear to be of the kind one would fabricate.

Recently, another individual connected to the same local Catholic church mentioned discussing Mark’s truck fire with Woodworth.  According to that person, Woodworth was at first hesitant but then said he thought Mark’s death was likely a murder.  He reportedly also said that he and his wife had seen the flames from their house and that he had gone to the scene.  However, as I was told, Woodworth would not discuss the matter any further.  According to my informant, Woodworth was afraid.

Fear--and perhaps various social ties--clearly seem to have kept numerous individuals from coming forward with information they have about my brother’s death.  The State Police and District Attorney’s office made it abundantly clear that they wanted to close the case definitively on Mark’s death.  It is appalling that there is no venue for individuals to relay relevant information without worries about offending their friends or risking retribution.  Why is there no ombudsman?  Where are concerned and responsive state and federal authorities?  What can people do if they are legitimately afraid?