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Saturday, September 16, 2000

09/16/00 Series renews talk of Margolies murder

By Cameron D. Martin - Greenwich Time

Sixteen years ago, residents regularly came together at Pemberwick X-Change to share information and commiserate in the wake of the murder of 13-year-old Matthew Margolies.

Last week, after publication of a four-part Greenwich Time series on the search for the boy, the discovery of his murder, and the investigation that followed, the unsolved murder was once again the focus of talk at the Pemberwick Road deli, as regulars discussed information previously unknown to them, according to owner Steve Pugliese.

"Everybody was trying to pull things from their memory banks, to see if they could make any new connections," said Pugliese, 47, who lives on Pemberwick Road, about one mile south of where Matthew's mutilated body was discovered on a wooded hillside Sept. 5, 1984.

Copies of last week's newspaper series sold out quickly at his store each morning, Pugliese said, as he and others read about previously unknown aspects of the story.

"I thought three suspects, not eight," said Pugliese, who thought he had gone to school with one of the suspects, who were described but not named by police. "I don't think anyone was aware there were that many suspects they could build a solid case against. It would seem they all had a means and a motive."

Greenwich police have said that is one of the reasons the case is so difficult to solve.

Matthew, well-known in his close-knit western Greenwich neighborhood known as "The Valley," disappeared Aug. 31, 1984. His body was discovered five days later beneath a pile of rocks, branches and leaves in a wooded area about a mile from his Pilgrim Drive home. He had been stripped to his undershorts, stabbed over a dozen times with a knife, and suffocated with dirt that was forced down his throat.

The brutal slaying of the teenager shocked the seemingly safe neighborhood and began a massive investigation. No arrests were made nor was a prime suspect publicly named. In recent years, the investigation slowed as all leads were exhausted and no new information developed.

Greenwich Time sought to take an in-depth look at the file in order to present a detailed, public summary of the case and the investigation. An agreement for release of the file was reached through the office of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, and Greenwich Police opened much of the file while keeping some names and details confidential to protect its investigation.

In last week's four-part series, the description of eight suspects was made available to the public for the first time. Along with details of the brutal murder, the list of suspects, although they were nameless, heightened awareness of the crime within the Pemberwick community, Pugliese said.

No new information in the Margolies case has been announced by Greenwich police since the conclusion of the series, and Police Chief Peter Robbins did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

Yet reference to the case by renowned criminal forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee during a speech at Greenwich High School Monday, and other information - mostly in the form of sentiments and condolences posted on the Margolies Web site - keeps the case fresh in the minds of residents.

"My daughter was over at Hay Day (Country Market) in Riverside last week, and there were some people there who were talking about it, and commenting about how they didn't know the whole case had gone to the extent that it had," Judy Moretti, 58, a longtime Pemberwick resident, said Wednesday. "I think most people outside our neighborhood remembered it as a kid missing, not what came afterwards."

On Monday, Dr. Lee told a Greenwich High School crowd that trace evidence found at the scene of Matthew Margolies' murder could yield a connection to a suspect. Lee, who until April served as Connecticut's public safety commissioner and has been involved in the renewed investigation through his work at the state crime lab, declined to say what that evidence might be.

"What was found at the murder site I call trace or transfer evidence," Lee said Monday. "Sometimes that can be very good and you can make a connection. But I can't really discuss any active case."

Town residents, from Pemberwick in particular, need time to absorb the information made available to them recently, Moretti said.

"It's been a good wake-up call for the public," Moretti said. "I think we have to sift through things and see if anyone remembers anything."

Matthew Margolies' mother, Maryann, said Wednesday that in the past week she has received numerous messages posted on the Web site devoted to the case of her son's murder, www.MatthewMargolies.com. The public, she said, is more aware of the case since the recent release of information.

"I think that there's a heightened awareness in the general public of what's happened, and that's good," Margolies said. "I certainly remain optimistic to come to some sort of closure on this and intend to see things through."

One message posted to the Web site, from a Greenwich woman named "Lisa," reads: "We all need to back off the Greenwich Police Department a little bit. I am sure though it is 16 years later, that they have a pretty good idea as to who murdered Matthew. I think they just lack the evidence.

"With forensic science as it is today, they may already be running tests they were not able to do in 1984. Trust in the fact that there are people out there who know things the tiniest things that may help and trust that they are speaking up.

"Trust that the Greenwich Police Department are the only ones who can help Maryann now the only ones who can avenge Matthew's death. Let's pray for the Greenwich Police Department as well and wish the nightmare to its end."

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