Originally published in Newsday on January 12, 1988
Matthew Solomon was charged yesterday with the Christmas Eve murder of his wife, Lisa, after he strangled her during an argument about whether she should leave the house, police said.
As he choked her, Solomon recounted in a written confession, She said she hated me . . . I asked her to please calm down as I squeezed her. A few minutes later she was quiet.
Police said they were able to induce a confession from Solomon, 23, because they had developed physical evidence that the body was in his car and that he had taken it to the frozen field where it was found wrapped in a garbage bag. They said they also had obtained a videotape of Solomon purchasing garbage bags at a convenience store on Christmas Eve.
District Attorney Patrick Henry said police initially became suspicious of Solomon after he gave relatives suggestions on the types of places a search should be conducted, even specifying how many feet off the roadway they should search.
A search party of relatives and friends found the body at a location generally matching Solomon's suggestions, Henry said.
On Sunday night, during an interview at a local diner, Solomon told Newsday that he didn't kill his wife, and said, . . . people don't know the love that we shared.
But within 90 minutes of his arrest yesterday, the sheetmetal worker had dryly confessed three times to watching his wife of two months die in his arms - in a written statement, a 40-minute videotape and a subsequent telephone conversation with his father, police said. Only after the telephone conversation, did Matthew Solomon break down and cry, police said.
In his written statement, Solomon told Suffolk law enforcement officials that he killed Lisa during a fight the newlyweds had had on Christmas Eve - a fight that was sparked by Solomon's falling asleep after lovemaking, he told police.
Sometime around midnight, Lisa woke me up, Solomon said in the statement. She was upset. She couldn't believe I fell asleep on Christmas Eve. She was real mad.
Solomon said that his wife was also upset about her father and mother being alone on Christmas Eve, and her dad was very ill.
She said she was going out, Matthew Solomon said, noting that his wife was then clad in a T-shirt and panties. She was standing in front of the dresser. I tried to stop her from getting dressed.
Their verbal argument turned physical and violent, Solomon told police.
I had her in my arms. She bit me on my right bicep. I pulled away. She was under my left arm and we fell on the floor. I put my right arm around her neck . . . she said she hated me . . . I asked her to please calm down as I squeezed her. A few minutes later she was quiet.
Solomon was arraigned yesterday afternoon and pleaded not guilty, a formality at arraignments. District Court Judge Donald Kitson ordered him held without bail. The Hauppauge courtroom was filled to capacity with members of the press, assistant district attorneys and county employees who were curious about the much-publicized case.
Solomon's parents, Jack and Ruth, sat quietly in the second row, guarded from the media by their son's lawyer, Jeff Waller, until the handcuffed man was led before the bench. They joined him then, and stood by his side.
At one point, Jack Solomon, after wiping away tears, clenched his fist and raised it, as if to offer support to his son.
Solomon, clad in a black T-shirt and jeans, squared his shoulders and stood before Kitson. He said nothing to the judge.
Waller argued that Solomon should be freed on $100,000 bail, saying the case against his client was shaky.
As far as I can see, all they have right here, supposedly, is a confession, Waller said.
But Timothy Mazzei, deputy homicide bureau chief for the district attorney's office, told Kitson that there was strong physical evidence connecting Matthew Solomon to the murder of his wife. Solomon's father said last week that Matthew had allowed police to fingerprint him, and had permitted detectives to take hair and blood samples.
We can prove that the body was in his car and that he was the one who transported it, Mazzei said in a subsequent interview. We know that it was he who placed the body in the bag, from physical evidence.
Mazzei said Solomon was allowed to leave Suffolk County on Wednesday for Dallas, where he visited relatives, because we didn't have the [crime-lab test] results by then and we didn't want anyone to know what we knew and what we were thinking. We didn't want him to become suspicious.
However, subsequent to his departure, test results came back from Suffolk's crime laboratory that gave police the evidence they needed to confront Solomon. The physical evidence was our ace in the hole, Mazzei said.
Sources said that trace evidence was obtained from Solomon's Oldsmobile, connecting the car to the body and to the scene where the corpse was found. Other evidence linked the garbage bag to the apartment, sources said.
Additionally, Matthew Solomon bought plastic garbage bags at a local 7-Eleven on Christmas Eve - a purchase that was videotaped by the store's internal security monitor, sources said.
Police detectives also learned from neighbors that the Solomons were overheard having a heated argument before her disappearance.
And in multiple conversations Solomon had with police before his arrest, 31 discrepancies emerged in accounts he gave of his whereabouts on Christmas Eve, said Norman Rein, one of the homicide detectives who handled the case.
Those discrepencies certainly piqued our interest, Rein said yesterday.
As the physical evidence was culled and neighbors' accounts collected, homicide detectives met on Sunday night with Edward Jablonski, chief of the district attorney's homicide bureau. After hearing a progress report on the case, Jablonski ordered police toarrest Solomon after his return from Texas on Sunday.
Henry said that the case would be put before a grand jury shortly.
He said that Solomon acted alone, and that he told no one about his involvement in the murder.
No one else is involved in the commission of the crime, Henry said.
According to police and officials in the district attorney's office, after strangling Lisa Solomon, Matthew left her body on the floor for 15 minutes. Then, noticing that she had involuntarily urinated during the strangulation, Solomon carried his wife's body into the bathroom, where he placed her in the bathtub. He did not wash it.
He placed her inside the plastic bags in his apartment, then put her in the trunk of his car, said Arthur Feldman, Suffolk chief of detectives. He drove around for 40 minutes.
On Miller Place, where Solomon lived, equal parts of shock and relief were expressed by neighbors as the word spread of Matthew Solomon's arrest.
Holly Stewart, who lives across the street from 17 Miller Place, where the Solomons lived, said that before the murder, neighbors had walked around without much thought of violent crime. After Lisa's body was found, they were filled with trepidation.
If we had to go put out the garbage, which you never thought about before, you said to your husband, `I'm going to put the garbage out. I'll be right back,' Stewart said.
I'm glad that it's over to tell you the truth. Everyone was concerned here. They're all worried about their children, said Edward F. Yuchowitz, a neighbor who has lived on Miller Place for 25 years.
We were hoping that it wasn't him, but everything pointed to him, he said.
Mazzei said that homicide detectives also believed everything pointed to Solomon.
If you're the killer and you know the homicide detectives know that, nine out of ten times you confess, he said. They can't lie anymore. And that's what happened in this case.
Stuart Vincent contributed to this story.
Excerpts from his confession, according to police:
Sometime around midnight, Lisa woke me up. She was upset. She couldn't believe I fell asleep on Christmas Eve. She was real mad. [She was also] ... upset about her father and mother being alone on Christmas Eve, and her dad was very ill ... She said she was going out. She was standing in front of the dresser. I tried to stop her from getting dressed ... I had her in my arms. She bit me on my right bicep. I pulled away. She was under my left arm and we fell on the floor. I put my right arm around her neck ... she said she hated me ... I asked her to please calm down as I squeezed her. A few minutes later she was quiet.