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Sunday, October 21, 2001

October 21, 2001 - While They're Protecting Us, Who's Protecting Them? - New York Times

JEFF WALSH of Rockville, a member of the 143rd Military Police Company of the Connecticut National Guard, was on his way home from a wedding in New York the afternoon of Sept. 29 when he got a call from his unit commander to report for guard duty at Groton-New London Airport the next morning at 4 a.m. He managed to get only a couple of hours sleep before rising at 1:30 the next morning to get ready and make the trip.

He called and left a message on the answering machine at New England Building Products, where he works installing gutters on new homes. He knows this is a busy time of year for the company, because so many contractors are putting the finishing touches on homes built over the summer, but no one could control the timing, he said with a shrug.

''I had health insurance, but it came out of my check, and if I don't work I don't get paid, so I don't know what's going to happen with that,'' Mr. Walsh said. And while one of his supervisors has told him the company will hold his job for him, he also knows that his co-workers will not be able to keep up if someone is not brought in to replace him.

''If they hire someone else, I'm not going to fight to get a job back where someone doesn't want me,'' Mr. Walsh said. ''I like my job, and the money is great, but I guess I'd have to go someplace else.''

Throughout the state, workers who have been called up for emergency Guard and Reserve duties, and their employers, are struggling with the same questions. While federal law requires companies to hire these workers back when they return, it is up to each company to determine how to pay them while they are gone. Some companies keep paying salaries while the soldier is away, others pay nothing.

''Last night, I got a call from a Guardsman who works for the state, and he's quite upset because he's going to lose a big chunk of money because he has been called up,'' said Carl R. Venditto, Connecticut chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an advocacy group for the Reserve. ''It would be nice if they're not hurt financially by the recall.''

Some 600 Guardsmen in Connecticut are currently deployed, the largest deployment of the Guard since the Korean War. Many were called up before Sept. 11, including an Army Reserve unit that left for peacekeeping operations in Kosovo this month, and an Air National Guard unit enforcing sanctions against Iraq. The Guard and Reserve now make up more than half of the nation's military forces and are being more heavily used than any nonwar period in the past.....

......But there are occasional employment-related disputes about reservists being called to active duty. Sean P. O'Donnell, a Greenwich police officer and member of a military police unit in Orangeburg, N.Y., is involved in a labor dispute over the way the town handles call-ups. In the Gulf War, he said, Greenwich paid the difference between military pay and the employee's salary from the town. He said the town did not do it when he was called up to go to Bosnia for eight months in 1999 and 2000.

''When the flag came out waving, it was the politically correct thing to pay the individuals who got deployed,'' Mr. O'Donnell said. ''You run into the same financial difficulties whether you get called up for a popular war or something that doesn't get as much attention. If we can't take care of ourselves or, worse, our families, how are we going to stay in the job?

''This is a structural issue they're going to run into with all the Guard and Reserve members who are going to be called up,'' Mr. O'Donnell said. ''If the United States is going to rely so heavily on Reserve and Guard units, and leave the people hanging out there financially, you're going to lose very valuable, and very resourceful, soldiers, which is going to leave the whole country in a predicament.''

Lt. Michael A. Pacewicz, president of the Silver Shield Association, the town's police union, said while the policy in Greenwich calls for an unpaid leave, the policy was augmented during the Gulf War, and the union contends that should set a new standard.

''Officer O'Donnell was in Bosnia, he was called up by the military, he did exactly what you would expect of a patriot, and the town isn't treating him the same way as they did the people called up for the Gulf War,'' said Mr. Pacewicz. ''What they did in Desert Storm was a great thing, but you can't treat people differently if they were called up for Bosnia instead of Desert Storm, and we're afraid that they'll take the same position now.''

Greenwich officials did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment. Mr. Venditto said people who are called up are covered by the Uniform Services Employment Re-employment Rights Act, which basically requires that if a member of the reserves is called to service, the company must let them go and keep the job open for them when they get back.

There is also a provision that employees come back with all the benefits such as vacation, sick time and insurances that they would have had on the day they left.

''Simple as it is, a lot of employers, companies and municipalities, interpret it differently,'' Mr. Venditto said. ''We do have, occasionally, a problem with some people who don't understand the law. In those cases where an employee calls us with a concern, we refer them to an ombudsman, a mediation service that we use......

Please send your comments to GreenwichRoundup@gmail.com

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Sept. 30, 2001 - Doctor Epstein Severly Injured

Dr. Fred Epstein, 67, a Greenwich resident and the founding director of the Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, suffered severe internal head injuries, paralysis and other permanent injuries.

Sunday, April 1, 2001

04/01/01 BOSTON GLOBE: Greenwich's other murder 1984 case reopened amid spotlight on Moxley slaying

By Lisa Prevost, Boston Globe Correspondent

GREENWICH, Conn. - Maryann Margolies has long accepted that the unsolved murder of her son can't compete for public attention with the fatal bludgeoning of fellow Greenwich teen Martha Moxley.

The killings were startlingly similar: Moxley was just 15 when she was found dead in the backyard of her family's estate in affluent Greenwich. Matthew Margolies was 13 when he was slain near his home in the Glenville neighborhood.

But the media appeal of the Moxley case has - as far as the Margolies investigation was long concerned - made all the difference in the world.

While Margolies was raised in an unremarkable working-class neighborhood, Moxley lived and died in exclusive Belle Haven.

More importantly, her suspected killer is her former neighbor, Michael Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy.

''The Moxley case has gotten the amount of attention it has primarily because of the Kennedy connection,'' said Maryann Margolies, a nursing director who still lives here. ''And that's a fact of life. That's reality.''

But more than 16 years after his murder, Matthew Margolies is about to get equal time.

Though they appear to have no new evidence to go on, Greenwich police and the state's attorney's cold case unit have come back to the Margolies case - a case that has long been known here as Greenwich's other unsolved murder.

Greenwich Police Chief Peter Robbins, who was a lieutenant detective when Margolies was murdered, has vowed to bring the case to some conclusion. The police recently enlisted renowned forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee to reexamine the evidence.

Though it's hardly common for police to reopen an investigation after so many years, the media frenzy driven by Skakel's arrest and impending trial - 25 years after Moxley's death - made it increasingly difficult for police to leave the Margolies murder alone.

The local newspaper, Greenwich Time, turned up the heat on police last year when it published a severe editorial: ''Another Old Murder Waits To Be Solved.''

And a local man has helped raise the Margolies murder's profile by maintaining the Web site www.matthewmargolies.com.

Greenwich native Tom Alessi launched the site a few years ago because, he says, he was frustrated by a widespread lack of attention to Margolies's murder.

The Margolies site averages an impressive 1,000 hits a day, although they may be primarily click-through traffic from Alessi's more popular sibling site: www.marthamoxley.com.

''I thought it was sort of wrong that there was all this interest in Martha's case and there was still a second murder that was just as important and not getting as much media attention,'' he said.

By reopening the Margolies case, police are hoping to capitalize on media interest in the Moxley murder, a case that has been profiled on television's ''Unsolved Murders'' and the subject of or thinly veiled in salacious novels.

At a press conference last month, the Greenwich police more than doubled the reward they had been offering for new information in the Margolies case, from $20,000 to $50,000. They also established a hotline for tips (203-532-1949), and brought Maryann Margolies forward to make an emotive plea.

''The media attention is already there because of the Moxley case,'' said James Walters, the Greenwich Police Department's deputy chief for criminal investigations. ''It sure helped the turnout at the press conference.''

But the odds of solving such an old case are not favorable.

Obtaining enough evidence to secure an arrest and conviction is very difficult in any cold case, acknowledged Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano.

''We are very clear when we meet with victims' families that we don't have any more answers than anyone else,'' Morano said. ''But what we do have is time to look into the case.''

The state's cold case unit has obtained arrest warrants in seven of the 15 cases it is working on, he said. So far, only one of the arrest warrants has led to a conviction.

Dr. Harry Bonell, chief deputy medical examiner in San Diego and a consulting expert for the national advocacy group Parents of Murdered Children, found that as few as 10 to 15 percent of cold cases are ever solved. But those 10 to 15 percent, he said, provide crucial hope to grieving families.

On Aug. 31, 1984, Matthew Margolies was stabbed repeatedly with a boning knife and suffocated with dirt that was forced down his throat. Five days passed before police found the body in a wooded area not far from a nearby river where he often went fishing.

Though police had a roster of suspects, no arrest was made.

Officials now hope advances in forensic science will enable them to identify Margolies's killer. ''We've always felt the case was solvable,'' Walters said. ''We believe the DNA analysis is going to be instrumental.''

According to Walters, work on the Margolies case slowed to a stop between 1990 and 1996.

Then, in 1998 - about a year after Robbins became chief and about the same time a one-man grand jury was appointed to consider evidence in the Moxley case - Robbins assigned two detectives to go through the 1,000-page Margolies file. Last November, the Greenwich police asked the cold case unit to join the probe.

As with the Moxley case, Greenwich police have been long and loudly accused of mishandling the initial investigation. In a 1986 report, an outside consultant faulted the Greenwich force for, among other things, failing to assign a detective to the case until after Margolies's body was found - and then only assigning one detective to view the crime scene.

''I think that if the police had had more experience and had involved the detective division, and had listened more closely to the things we had to say, they would certainly have not gone for that length of time without finding him,'' Maryann Margolies said in a recent interview.

But from Morano's perspective, the Greenwich police may have salvaged the case - albeit years later - with their conscientious handling of the evidence.

All crucial pieces of evidence were sealed after they were last viewed in 1984. All police reports are in the file.

And, rather presciently, the Greenwich police took hair samples from their suspects. Considering that in 1984 few in law enforcement had ever heard of DNA analysis, it was either far-sighted or inadvertently fortunate, Morano said.

Maryann Margolies says the ups and downs in the investigation of her son's murder have become increasingly hard on her.

This time, she says, she needs the case to be either solved or resolved.

''It's more painful each time it resurfaces than it was at the time of the murder,'' she said. ''With the passage of time, you've started to get your life back in some semblance of order and normality.''

And while legal closure may not mean emotional closure, ''it has to be less painful.''

Friday, March 9, 2001

03/09/01 Reward doubles; officials look to DNA for clues in '84 murder

By J.A.Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time

Matthew Margolies' mother stepped to the microphone-adorned podium, looked straight at the television cameras and pleaded for help in finding her son's killer.

"Please, I beg you to help me find some level of closure," Maryann Margolies said yesterday at a press conference convened by law enforcement officials to elicit the public's assistance in their renewed push to solve the 1984 homicide.

Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, who since November has headed a combined state and local "cold case squad" that is probing the murder, announced that the state has more than doubled its share of the reward money for the Margolies case. He said Gov. John Rowland authorized an increase from $20,000 to $50,000. With $10,000 in private funds, the reward now totals $60,000.

Officials also announced that anyone with information about the murder can call a newly established 24-hour telephone tip line: (203) 532-1949.

In addition to unveiling measures to elicit greater public cooperation, Morano revealed that technicians at the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory in Meriden are preparing to use the latest in DNA testing on physical evidence from the case.

The evidence includes hair that Margolies' killer may have left at the crime scene.

The testing will be done at the direction of retired state public safety commissioner Dr. Henry Lee, one of the nation's preeminent forensic experts.

Of Lee's involvement in the Margolies case, Morano said, "That makes me the luckiest cold case prosecutor in the country."

While cautioning against unduly high expectations, Morano said he is optimistic about a positive outcome of the renewed probe because the original investigation was well-documented by police and physical evidence has been well preserved.

"All relevant and crucial pieces of evidence have been sealed since 1984 and have not been pawed by well-meaning individuals," Morano said, adding that the integrity of the evidence can ward off possible future claims of tampering or contamination.

Morano, the state's second highest-ranking prosecutor, said the Margolies case is unique for an old homicide case in that police had taken and retained DNA samples from suspects during the initial investigation.

"We have a veritable database, for lack of a better word, of suspects," he said.

In an interview last week, Lee said cold case investigators collected additional DNA samples from suspects who voluntarily supplied hair and saliva, and search warrants may be sought to obtain DNA from uncooperative suspects.

Margolies was killed Aug. 31, 1984, in a wooded area off Pemberwick Road, not far from his home on Pilgrim Drive, in a neighborhood of the Pemberwick section of Glenville known as "The Valley."

According to the autopsy report, Margolies had been stabbed more than a dozen times and was suffocated by dirt shoved down his throat. The boy's body was concealed under a pile of brush, rocks and leaves and, despite an extensive search, was not found for five days.

Eight people who either lived or worked in the Glenville area were identified as suspects during the initial investigation, police said, and all remain under suspicion.

The case was actively investigated through 1988, but as the killer's trail grew colder, leads trickled to a stop.

In early 1999, two Greenwich detectives were assigned to conduct a complete reinvestigation of the case. After a year of preliminary work, which included a careful review of the nearly 700-page case file, the detectives began conducting interviews in March 2000. Since then, state forensic scientists have been reviewing physical evidence in the case and DNA testing is expected to begin soon.

More leads surfaced after Greenwich Time published a five-part series about the Margolies case in early September. A month later, Greenwich police applied to have the case assigned to the state cold case unit.

Police Chief Peter Robbins said yesterday that the Margolies case file has grown to include more than 1,000 pages of police reports.

"The Greenwich Police Department has never diminished its resolve to solve this case and bring closure to the loving family members over their loss," he said.

Yesterday's press conference, Robbins said, "is yet another stage in the process to bring this case to what is hoped will be a successful solution."

But with her daughter, mother and husband looking on, Maryann Margolies held center stage yesterday as she remembered her slain son.

"He was respectful, considerate, loving and caring," the 61-year-old Pemberwick woman said. "He valued life and knew how to live it. Matthew brought us much happiness. He loved to joke and have fun.

"I wasn't able to hold him as he was dying, to take away his fear and ease his pain. What can I do? I can continue to offer him dignity and see that justice takes place. I have always felt that someone knows something and is not coming forward. Please, I beg you to help me find some level of closure. Look into your heart and soul. It takes courage to do what is right."

In addition to using the tip line, anyone with information about the Margolies case can call Greenwich police Detectives Timothy Duff, at 622-8080, and Gary Hoffkins, at 622-8037, or e-mail the state cold case squad at cold.case@po.state.ct.us .

Tuesday, March 6, 2001

03/06/11 Announcement Expected in Margolies Case

By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time

State and local law enforcement officials are planning to hold a press conference this week to announce new measures to advance the investigation into the 1984 slaying of Glenville teenager Matthew Margolies. Although not expected to publicly release details about the investigation itself, the chief state's attorneys office and Greenwich Police Department said they will announce plans which will help the public assist with the investigation.

"We feel there are people who know things and are hoping they will come forward and assist by providing what they know," Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano said on Friday. "The purpose of this press conference will be to reach out to the general public and see what assistance can be provided by them."

Morano, who has headed the Margolies investigation since November, said the appeal for help was not due to a lack of progress by the investigative team, which is composed of detectives from the Greenwich Police Department and the state's cold case unit, as well as forensic scientists.

In fact, the prosecutor said new information about the formerly dormant case has reinforced the belief that the case can be solved.

Morano said the measures to be announced at the Thursday afternoon press conference at Cole Auditorium in Greenwich Library, are part of the investigative team's strategy.

Members of the victim's family met with Morano and other team members for the first time Wednesday to be briefed on the investigation and work out details of the press conference. Maryann Margolies said she came away from the meeting feeling hopeful about her son's case.

"I was pleased," she said yesterday. "I am confident that through the efforts of this team we will reach some form of closure." Although they declined to disclose what will be announced, officials have compared the news conference to one held a decade ago concerning the 1975 Martha Moxley beating death.

In 1991, Chief State's Attorney John Bailey, flanked by local police officials, came to Greenwich to reveal that a re-investigation of the Moxley case had begun. Bailey also announced a doubling of the reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the 15-year-old Greenwich girl's killer, as well as the establishment of a 24-hour tip line.

Seven years later, in 1998, and based on information gathered during the re- investigation, a grand jury was convened to further probe the crime and use its power to subpoena reluctant witnesses. After 18 months of work, the grand jury issued a report that was used in January 2000 to obtain an arrest warrant for Moxley's alleged killer, Michael Skakel.

It is expected that the officials on Thursday will announce an increase in the $30,000 reward that has been in place for the Margolies case.

Margolies was four months shy of his 14th birthday when, on Aug. 31, 1984, he was brutally slain in a wooded area off Pemberwick Road, not far from his home on Pilgrim Drive in a section of Glenville known as "The Valley." According to the autopsy report, Margolies had been stabbed over a dozen times and was suffocated by dirt the killer shoved down his throat. The boy's body was concealed under a pile of brush, rocks and leaves, and despite an extensive search was not found until Sept. 5

Eight people who either lived or worked in the Glenville area were identified as suspects during the initial investigation, police said, and all remain under suspicion.

The case was actively investigated through 1988, but as the killer's trail grew colder, leads trickled to a stop.

Then, in early 1999, two Greenwich detectives were assigned to conduct a complete re-investigation of the case. After a year of preliminary work, which included a careful review of the nearly 700-page case file, the detectives began conducting interviews in March 2000. Since then, state forensic scientists have been reviewing physical evidence in the case and testing is expected to begin soon.

More leads surfaced after Greenwich Time in early September published a five- part series about the Margolies case, which included many previously unreported details obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. A month later, Greenwich police applied to have the case assigned to the state cold case unit.

Anyone with information about the Margolies case can call Greenwich detectives Timothy Duff , at 622-8080, or Gary Hoffkins, at 622-8037, or e-mail the state cold case squad at: cold.case@po.state.ct.us.

Monday, January 1, 2001

01/01/01 2000 Year in Review: Police make gains in unsolved cases

By J.A. Johnson Jr. - Greenwich Time

The year 2000 began with an arrest in a 25-year-old Greenwich murder mystery, and it came to and end with a local man being charged with homicide only a day after allegedly committing the crime.

In between the arrests of accused killers Michael Skakel in January and Joseph Benton in December, 2000 saw new life breathed into the investigation of another long unsolved Greenwich murder, that of 13-year-old Glenville resident Matthew Margolies in 1984.

Others who find themselves in this, the least enviable of Greenwich year-end compilations, include Blane Nordahl, who in October was sent to prison nearly five years after his arrest for breaking into the Greenwich residence of Ivana Trump and into the homes of other rich or famous victims; and William P. Benedict Jr., who in September pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the driving death of a promising young Greenwich woman.

Another notable in the Year In Crime review is former Greenwich resident Martin Frankel. He was more in the news a year earlier, when his alleged fraud scheme that authorities said was used to embezzle more than $200 million from insurance companies dominated local headlines and was news around the nation. But after fleeing the country in May 1999 and being caught as a fugitive in Hamburg, Germany, four months later, Frankel spent all of 2000 languishing in a German prison cell awaiting his expected extradition to the U.S. to face dozens of federal and state charges ranging from racketeering to money laundering.

As 1999 ended, there was an air of great expectancy concerning whether an arrest would finally be made in connection with the Halloween Eve 1975 slaying of Greenwich teenager Martha Moxley. In December 1999, a Bridgeport grand jury completed an 18-month investigation into the 15-year-old girl's death and issued a report that on Jan. 18 was used to arrest Michael Skakel. At his arraignment three months later, as he waited his turn to file out of a packed Stamford courtroom, Skakel stunned the victim's mother when he walked up to Dorthy Moxley and said, "Dorthy, I feel your pain, but you've got the wrong guy."

The events led to a summer of more courtroom drama, beginning with a hearing lasting several days to determine whether there was sufficient evidence for Skakel to stand trial. After hearing from witnesses who claimed to have heard Skakel confess to the crime, Judge Maureen Dennis ruled in a courtroom packed with journalists from around the world that Skakel's case was indeed headed to trial.

But, as 2000 comes to a close, it remains unresolved whether 40-year-old Skakel will be tried as a juvenile before a juvenile court judge or as an adult before a jury of his peers for a crime he allegedly committed when he was 15 years old. A hearing to address the issue of the proper trial venue was held in October, and Judge Dennis has until mid-February to make her ruling.

Earlier this month, on Dec. 9, firefighters responded to a house fire at 37 Prospect St. in central Greenwich. No one was believed to be home at the time, but, as investigators picked through the smoldering rubble, they found behind a shut bathroom door the body of 22-year-old William DeWitt Romig. It was determined the fire had been deliberately set by one of Romig's six housemates, 42-year-old Joseph Benton, who was charged with arson murder.

In a confession to police, Benton said he lit a couch on fire because he was angry with his landlord over the $1,200 monthly rent he was being charged. Said by his attorney to be mildly retarded, Benton is to undergo a competency hearing Tuesday in state Superior Court in Stamford. If found competent to stand trial, Benton would face a possible sentence of life without parole if convicted.

On Sept. 26, 20-year-old William P. Benedict Jr. pleaded guilty to manslaughter in what authorities had called the alcohol-related automobile accident on Cat Rock Road that killed one of the three other teens Benedict had been driving home from a party early the morning of July 24, 1999. The victim was Monique Da Lan, an 18-year-old Greenwich High School graduate and National Honor Society member who was looking forward to returning to Loyola College for her sophomore year.

Benedict had been arrested on two counts of manslaughter, one count of which was dismissed because conviction would have hinged on a legal finding of intoxication. Benedict's blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was 0.09, just below the legal limit of 0.10. Under the remaining manslaughter count, he had faced a possible 10 years in prison, but under a plea agreement, the prosecution will ask a Superior Court judge to sentence Benedict to six years in prison, and suspend that sentence after three years. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

The end of the Nordahl saga came perhaps fittingly in a year that saw Greenwich burglaries at a 10-year low. Greenwich historically has attracted the best among the criminal class because of its wealth, and from time to time burglars who go on costly breaking-and-entering sprees are given nicknames by police, the media, or both. The latest in this spectrum of notoriety that includes the Dinnertime Bandit, Coastal Bandits and Social Register Bandits, is Blane Nordahl, dubbed Burglar to the Stars.

While others who preceded him snuck into backcountry mansions while residents were busy having supper, or arrived at their waterfront targets in Zodiac inflatable boats, or culled victims from the Social Register, Nordahl's specialty was ripping off his wealthy victims sterling silver service items. Among the loot taken from the 40-room Vista Drive mansion of Ivana Trump, ex-wife of real estate billionaire Donald Trump, were 24 silver dinner plates worth $30,000, 12 antique French show plates worth $14,000, and 32 pairs of salt and pepper shakers valued at $120 each.

Altogether, authorities have said, Nordahl admitted to stealing silver items worth more than $500,000 in the seven Greenwich burglaries he committed between August 1995 and August 1996. He is believed to have stolen millions more in break-ins all along the East Coast - including the homes of rock star Bruce Springsteen and sportscaster Curt Gowdy - until his spree came to an end in October 1996, when arrested on a Greenwich warrant in his native Wisconsin.

Much legal wrangling and confusion over a plea bargain stalled judgment day for the 38-year-old defendant, who was finally sentenced Oct. 26 in federal court in Central Islip, N.Y. When ordering Nordahl to a prison term of five years, U.S. District Judge Jacob Mishler credited Nordahl with "time served," meaning the burglar can be freed as early as this October.

When he fled his Lake Avenue mansion in May 1999 with suitcases full of cash and diamonds - assets which authorities said were products of money laundering - Martin Frankel was several steps ahead of federal investigators who were zeroing in on Frankel's Liberty National Securities, the bogus brokerage firm Frankel allegedly used to funnel more than $200 million in embezzled assets from nearly a dozen insurance companies in seven states.

But it was other players in Frankel's alleged criminal enterprise who made headlines in 2000, most significantly Tennessee businessman John Hackney, who on Sept. 22 admitted in U.S. District Court in New Haven to having acted as Frankel's front man in diverting more than $200 million in stolen insurance funds through Liberty National Securities and into Frankel's Swiss bank accounts. Hackney, 51, had been installed by his alleged co-conspirator as head of each of the insurance companies which Frankel secretly controlled.

Hackney pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering for his role in Frankel's scheme, and he could be sent to prison for as long as 40 years when sentenced March 14.

Crime related stories are almost never positive, but developments that arose during 2000 concerning the unsolved 1984 murder of 13-year-old Matthew Margolies of Pilgrim Drive in Glenville could hardly be seen as anything but encouraging.

After years of dormancy, the homicide probe was revived when two Greenwich police detectives were assigned to reinvestigate the case on nearly a full-time basis. Police officials said there had been no new leads that caused them to revive the investigation, but the Margolies murder was so brutal, and many advances in forensic science had been made in the past 16 years, that they thought it was worth the time and effort to try to solve the case.

Then in September, Greenwich Time published a series of stories on the Margolies case, based on interviews, the autopsy report, and previously unreleased police reports obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The stories contained information about the crime itself as well as the eight "key" suspects that detectives had identified and other facts never before made public. Previously, police had only publicly said that five days after Margolies disappeared his body was found in a shallow grave about a mile from his house in Glenville's Pemberwick section, and that the boy had died as a result of multiple stab wounds and asphyxiation. As a result of the newspaper's series, the public found out just how brutal the murder had been, that not only had Margolies been stabbed more than a dozen times, but there was evidence of torture as well. According to the autopsy report, a stick and dirt were forced down the victim's throat - while he was still alive.

One theory investigators have been pursuing is that the murderer was a teenager who lived near Margolies and possibly held a grudge against the victim for having blamed Margolies for telling police about a marijuana patch he was growing along the Byram River. At the time of the fatal Aug. 31, 1984, confrontation, according to the theory, the murderer was possibly under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug.

About a month later, in mid-October, a state investigative unit that specializes in old, unsolved homicides agreed to assist the Greenwich Police Department with the Margolies case. The "cold case" unit operating out of the chief state's attorney's office in Rocky Hill assigned a squad - consisting of a veteran homicide investigator, prosecutor and forensic scientist - to coordinate efforts with the two local detectives on the case.

Greenwich Police Chief Peter Robbins and Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano both confirmed the combined state and local effort would involve the forensic testing of physical evidence, but they would not be specific.

News of the state's involvement in the case had been greeted with great enthusiasm by the victim's mother.

"I think it's a very positive move," Maryann Margolies said in an Oct. 31 interview. "The Greenwich police are asking for a fresh pair of eyes to look over the material, to look over the evidence, and maybe they'll see something or find something by looking at it from a different perspective."

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