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Sunday, July 5, 1998

07/05/98 New probe of 14-year-old Margolies murder begins

By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time

The renewed investigation into the unsolved 1984 murder of 13-year-old Glenville resident Matthew Margolies is under way.

After a recent review of the extensive but dormant Margolies case file, a Greenwich detective began conducting interviews two weeks ago to officially launch the renewed murder probe.

"We've started some interviews, Detective Division Captain James Walters said Thursday. He would not disclose whether those questioned included suspects. According to police, more than 60 people were initially identified as possible suspects, a number that was whittled down to about a dozen, some of whom remain under suspicion.

The reinvestigation of the Margolies case was announced in May, when Police Chief Peter Robbins revealed his department was planning to launch an all-out effort to find out who nearly 14 years ago sadistically murdered Margolies and buried him in a shallow grave beside the Byram River.

Though police followed up on occasional leads in the case, the murder of the only son of a working-class family has not been as actively investigated as has the case of Martha Moxley, a 15-year-old who was bludgeoned to death outside her family's mansion in the affluent Belle Haven section of town in 1975.

The Moxley case has maintained a high profile because two nephews of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy are among the murder suspects. The case has been the subject of two recently published books, the inspiration for a novel and subsequent television miniseries, as well as fodder for numerous talk shows and other television programs. A reinvestigation of the Moxley case was launched in 1991, and last month a grand jury was appointed to probe the matter.

Robbins was promoted captain and placed in charge of the Detective Division three months after Margolies was killed. For reasons he would not explain, Robbins said he had been unable to pursue the case as vigorously as he had wanted. But in a May interview, Robbins said that as a result of his appointment as chief eight months earlier, he found himself in a position to do things with the investigation he previously could not.

On Thursday, the police chief said he remained optimistic the case would be solved.

I just think that it's a solvable case, but I don't want to go into why I believe that at this time," Robbins said.

The victim's mother, Maryann Margolies, who still lives in Glenville, has declined comment on the reopening of her son's case.

According to Walters, there have been no new developments that warranted the renewed investigation, but he said it was hoped that advances in forensic science since the 1984 slaying would play a pivotal role in identifying the youth's killer.

"We're going to re-evaluate all the evidence to see if they should be submitted for further forensic analysis," he said. "There is a substantial body of evidence in this case."

In addition to a knife found near Margolies' body, believed to be the murder weapon, Walters said the initial investigation recovered trace evidence. Although he would not disclose what was recovered, trace evidence can include hair, clothing fibers, semen, or any other physical evidence a killer leaves at the crime scene.

No fingerprints were found on the alleged murder weapon, as the knife was exposed to rain during the five days Margolies' body went undiscovered.

According to police, Margolies set out the afternoon of August 31, 1984 from his Pilgrim Drive home to go fishing in the Byram River. Police said they believed the boy was killed the same afternoon by someone who repeatedly stabbed and strangled him. The boy's partially nude body was discovered five days later in a wooded area near the river. The boning knife believed to be the murder weapon was found a short distance. from the body.

Shortly after the murder, the FBIis Behavioral Science unit profiled Margolies' killer as a white male familiar with Glenville, who knew Margolies as well as the victim's passion for fishing. In a town funded 1986 paid consultant's critique of the Police Department's investigation, the murderer was further characterized as a sadist who lured his victim to a secluded area where he would be able to act out his gory fantasies.

Walters said no time limit has been set on the renewed investigation, "The investigation isn't going to be limited by time constraints," he said. "We will spend whatever time is necessary to follow all leads and review all the evidence to further the investigation as far as we can."

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