Sunday, May 31, 2020

Why Did the N.Y.S. Police Fail to Check the Phone Records for the Night of Mark’s Truck Fire?

Previous posts (see esp. October 16, 2016; February 28 and April 30, 2019) have brought up the problem that New York State Police investigators failed to check the telephone records for the night of my brother’s suspicious truck fire and refused to check them later when asked to so. An acquaintance of my brother’s allegedly had called him at 10:30 p.m. to discuss the results of a football pool, and when not finding him at home, spoke instead with Mark’s wife for about half an hour.   That call allegedly ended when Mark’s wife Susan saw his truck in flames in the field across from their house.  Since 10:30 p.m. is very late for a business or social call, the lead police investigator should certainly have made the effort to verify it.

In addition, because the N.Y.S. police investigator oddly found no one except Mark’s wife who had seen him that whole day, he should have tried to determine from the phone records if Mark himself had spoken by phone to anyone during the evening or earlier in the day.  It would not have been difficult to do, since in general my brother had his own set of friends.

Finally, the investigator should have checked the phone records to learn if any calls had been made by or to the off-duty Salamanca police officer who had been involved in a heated argument with my brother at a local club the day before the truck fire and had called in to the local police to pick Mark up for DWI when he left the club.

This post discusses how in an interview in May 2010 with the Cattaraugus County district attorney and the senior N.Y.S.P. investigator in Mark’s case (on which, see posts of March 23 and April 20, 2011), the responses to my questions about the phone records point to a cover-up of my brother’s suspicious death on the part of the N.Y.S. Police.  At that meeting, John Ensell, the senior investigator in Mark’s case (in 2010 an investigator for the D.A.), claimed that Mark Marowski, the Salamanca policeman who got into the altercation with my brother the day before the truck fire, had in fact been interviewed.

However, there is no mention of that interview in the police report.  In addition, in a telephone conversation with N.Y.S. Lt. Allen in April 2007, I brought up the problem that Marowski was apparently never interviewed. Lt. Allen did not deny it, but simply remained silent.

At the meeting in May 2010, Ensell also claimed that, according to Holy Cross Club members present during the altercation between my brother and Marowski, it hadn't been much of an argument anyway.  However, Ensell’s claim contradicts what the lead investigator, Edward Kalfas, told Atty. Michael Kelly in 2005, specifically that he had not asked members of the Holy Cross Club about the argument between my brother and Marowski.  In addition, as several individuals reported to me, Marowski had frequently got into rather nasty arguments with my brother at that club.

District Attorney Lori Rieman, newly elected at the time, went virtually lock-step with Ensell in denying the validity of each point I raised.  She claimed that a subpoena would have been required to obtain the phone records and that serious evidence of criminal activity would have been necessary for requesting it.  She also stated that there was no reason to believe that Mark’s wife Susan had not been on the phone, citing the interview with Pete Rapacioli to confirm it.  Shockingly, Rieman completely contradicted her statements to me in October 2009 that the records should have been checked and it would have been significant if the alleged call had not taken place.

As Rieman was also well aware, the State Police knew from the beginning of the investigation that my brother and his wife were not getting along and that a divorce was approaching.  That circumstance, in particular, would have warranted investigation of the phone records.  How would Ensell and Rieman have responded to the anonymous letter sent to me in 2014 (see post of August 11, 2014), reporting that my brother’s wife and Officer Marowski were having an affair at the time of my brother’s death?  Would they simply have dismissed that, too?

In May 2005, when I asked Michael Kelly, a prominent Buffalo criminal attorney and former assistant district attorney in Erie County, review the case, he stated the following: (1) As a matter of course, Inv. Kalfas should have checked the telephone records for the alleged phone conversation of Susan Pavlock and Pete Rapacioli the night of the fire. (2) Inv. Kalfas appeared to be protecting Salamanca policeman Mark Marowski by not mentioning him in the police report where he refers to Mark's "unusual" behavior at the Holy Cross Club that day.

As the interview in May 2010 suggests, Ensell seems clearly to have fabricated information to make the investigation into my brother’s suspicious death seem professional and unbiased.  Unfortunately, it was anything but professional and unbiased.