This post follows up on some of the information included in an anonymous comment recently sent in to this blog on April 10, 2018, specifically for the post “The Importance of the Phone Records” (October 25, 2016). I quote that comment verbatim:
“I talked to dale "pharmy" just before he went fishing that morning. Dale and his friend "joe" had returned sun on from a camping trip over the weekend in the Cuba Hinsdale area camping stuff fishing poles and 2 22 rifles were in the rear seat area p.s look into who he broke up with the nite before the "accident" I'm scared 2.”
The author of this comment does not clarify at what specific time he or she spoke with Tarapacki the morning of his truck fire and whether Tarapacki actually mentioned going fishing or if the anonymous commenter drew that inference from the fishing poles observed in the rear seat area. In addition, since the anonymous commenter refers to “poles,” one can assume that there must have been at least two fishing poles in the truck.
Although my FOIL request for the police report on Dale Tarapacki’s case was denied by the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s office (see post of March 19, 2016), an individual who had obtained the police report sent it to me. In light of this recent anonymous comment, it is strange that there is no reference to any burned remains of these fishing poles in the police report or in the fire investigator’s report (which I did receive after appealing the denial of my FOIL request for all the relevant records on Tarapacki’s death). One would certainly assume that the metal reels (or metal parts of the reels) would not have totally disintegrated in the truck fire. In fact, the police report refers to the remains of two 22-caliber rifles in the back seat area of the truck (presumably the same rifles mentioned in the anonymous comment) and a number of 22-caliber shells. So what happened to the fishing poles?
There is, however, a reference in the police report to one fishing pole. As recorded in a supplemental report by Deputies Rozler and Dry, dated April 11, 2005 (the day of the truck fire), Tarapacki’s neighbor Steve Kennison told investigators that he saw Tarapacki at about 10 a.m. that day. The report goes on to state, “Mr. Tarapacki appeared to be going fishing as he left the residence with a fishing pole.” The report also refers to two other neighbors who were interviewed, Eladina Grey and Sue Grey. According to the report, these two neighbors saw Tarapacki at about 11:45 a.m. that day and at no time after that. No mention is made of Tarapacki carrying any fishing poles back into his house. The fishing poles, then, would still have been in the truck.
Would Tarapacki have left for a fishing trip around 10 a.m. and returned by 11:45? The police report expresses no concern about that time frame, but it doesn’t seem likely. It would be useful to know if Tarapacki actually told the anonymous commenter that he was going fishing that morning or if that was speculation on his/her part.
According to a reliable source, although Tarapacki was in no shape to go fishing that morning, police drew attention to a fishing trip in the events leading up to his death. But it is safe to say that no fishing expedition led Tarapacki to the top of Hardscrabble Road, where, according to the fire investigator’s report, at 2:45 p.m. that day members of the Cattaraugus County fire investigation team were summoned to the scene of his burned-out truck.