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Thursday, February 10, 2000


Greenwich Time

THE ISSUE: Developments in the Moxley case serve to underline the lack of an arrest in the killing of another teen.

The well-publicized arrest of a suspect in the 1975 murder of 15-year-old Martha Moxley is a painful reminder to some townspeople that another slaying involving a Greenwich teen remains unsolved. For townspeople who rememberthe 1984 case involving 13-year-old Matthew Margolies, the lack of resolution is especially troubling in a community that has a reputation as a safe place to raise children.

A police investigation into the Margolies killing was reopened in 1998, but the mystery continues. For more than 15 years, questions have gone unanswered about what happened to the boy after he left his Glenville home to go fishing on August 31, 1984. His partially clad, stabbed and strangled body was discovered in a shallow grave near the Byram River five days later. Nearby was a boning knife that police believe was the murder weapon.

The single biggest similarity for the two cases is obvious: Both murders involved teens who were brutally murdered in places that residents considered to be safe.

But the differences are substatial, and some observers may find them telling. Martha Moxley's body was found on the grounds of her well-to-do family's Belle Haven mansion; Matthew Margolies remains were unearthed in a wooded area some distance from the working-class home where his mother still livesin Glenville. Dorthy Moxley, Martha's mother, spent years as an activist seeking justice, talking with receptive media representatives to press law enforcement officials to identify and charge her daughter's killer; Maryann Margolies, while cooperative and interested in the same kind of resolution, has not been able to elicit the same kind of interest.

The biggest fifference may involve the slaying suspects, which in turn may explain the amount of attention these bereaved mothers and the murder cases have received. Suspects in the Moxley case were members of the Skakel family, neighbors of the slain girl, who are related to the Kennedy family by marrage. The man who has been charged in her murder is Michael Skakel, 39, the nephew of the widow of Robert Kennedy. Police have not identified a suspect in the Margolies case.

After Mr. Skakel's arrest last month, Mrs. Margolies told staff writer Ryan Jockers, "I don't think it's done intentionally ...but the stark riality is that fame and fortune are factors to be considered." For her part, Mrs. Moxley told Mr. Jockers that Matthew Margolies should "get her story out".

The arrest in the Moxley slaying indicates that resolution of old murder cases needn't be considered forever stymied. Importantly, there are other factors involved in the Margolies case. Greenwich Police Chief Peter Robbins was the lieutenant who supervised the department's initial investigation, and he has said he wants to do all that is possible to identify the boy's killer and bring that individual to trial. Many townspeople who lived in Greenwich in 1984 recall the slaying and continue to be quietly outraged that it could occur within their community.

Beyond that, Mrs. Margolies has remained optimistic that an arrest ultimately will be made in the death of her son. That quiet confidence in the face of an unimaginable tragety is complling. We can only hope that in time authorities will solve the mystery of the awful killing of Matthew Margolies and bring his murderer to justice.

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