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Thursday, March 23, 2000

03/23/00 Margolies Case File is Subject of Hearing

By Ryan Jockers - Greenwich Time

The state Freedom of Information Commission next week is to hear arguments on whether Greenwich police can withhold records on the 1984 murder of 13-year-old Matthew Margolies of Glenville.

Greenwich Time, alleging a violation of the Freedom of Information Act, on Oct. 7 appealed Greenwich Police Chief Peter Robbins' denial of its request for the department's records of the case, which remains unsolved. The Freedom of Information Commission scheduled a hearing for the appeal for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Hartford.

"The Margolies murder was a much-publicized case that is 15 years old, and we believe Greenwich residents should have information regarding the police investigation," said Joseph F. Pisani, editor and senior vice president of Greenwich Time.

Margolies' body was found partly covered with leaves on a secluded hillside outside the Glenville neighborhood near the Byram River on Sept. 5, 1984. The Greenwich Police Department began to reinvestigate the Margolies murder in June 1998, the same month in which a grand jury convened to hear witnesses in the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley.

Eighteen months later, the grand jury found probable cause to arrest Michael Skakel, now 39, a former neighbor of Moxley's and a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, who was arrested Jan. 19 on a charge of murder. Skakel was arraigned March 14 and has claimed his innocence through his attorney, Michael Sherman of Stamford. On Aug. 31, J.A. Johnson Jr., a Greenwich Time reporter, made a formal written request to Robbins for the Police Department's records concerning the Margolies murder investigation. A month later, on Oct. 1, Robbins denied the request, citing a state law that exempts certain public records from being made public because disclosure would not be in the public interest. Robbins did not say in what way he felt the release of records would hurt the public interest. An example of such records, according to the state law, includes those that would endanger individuals who were previously unidentified, signed statements of witnesses, investigation techniques not known to the public and arrest records of juveniles.

Robbins would not comment yesterday on the forthcoming Freedom of Information Commission hearing.

According to police, Matthew Margolies set out the afternoon of Aug. 31, 1984, from his Pilgrim Drive home to pursue his pastime, fishing in the Byram River. Police said they believe Margolies 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. There was no evidence Margolies had been sexually assaulted.

Shortly after the murder, the FBI's 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 the victim to a secluded area where he would be able to act out his gory fantasies.

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