A former Huntington Station man shared chilling details with a state Parole Board earlier this year about how he murdered his newlywed wife on Christmas Eve more than three decades ago before panicking and trying to conceal his crime.
Records show Matthew Solomon, now free after being released from prison in May, told Parole Board commissioners who ended his more than 31 years behind bars that he had loved Lisa Solomon, his wife of two months.
Matthew Solomon, now 54, said that was true “in spite of” his actions on Dec. 24, 1987, and “as hard as it is for people to understand.”
The transcript of Solomon’s Parole Board interview in March provides a look inside the mind of a killer whom state officials found was rehabilitated enough to rejoin society decades after a crime that attracted wide public attention and extensive news coverage.
The release of the transcript, which Newsday obtained through the Freedom of Information Law, follows intense criticism from the victim’s family of the Parole Board’s decision to free Solomon.
Lisa Solomon's family joined Republican state lawmakers and Suffolk police union officials in calling for legislation that would make it tougher for inmates to be paroled.
The Parole Board cited “an extensive and thorough review” of Solomon’s years behind bars before finding that his freedom, on his eighth bid for release, was “compatible with the welfare and safety of the community.”
The transcript provides a glimpse into Solomon’s efforts to rehabilitate himself by seeking out religious mentoring and programs that included one aimed at preventing domestic violence.
But it also includes what the victim’s mother, Diane Weaver, 86, of East Northport, said in a Newsday interview appears to be the most detailed account Solomon has given of the crime.
Solomon recalled during part of his interview by video feed from Otisville Correctional Facility — with board commissioners in Poughkeepsie — that he sat and stared at his wife, then 22, after he killed her with a chokehold.
The former sheet metal worker, then 23, said he knew Lisa Solomon was dead after he tried to talk to her, shook her and finally felt for a pulse that wasn’t there.
“I actually initially just sat and just stared for a while and then as fear set in, shame set in, and the immediate guilt, and I allowed fear to take over … I made a decision to cover it up,” Solomon said.
Solomon said the violence began as he argued with his wife, with whom he’d had a “stormy” and “volatile” relationship, as she tried to get dressed to go visit her mother.
Solomon cornered her in a bedroom closet to try to stop her from leaving, he said, but she pushed her way out before he stumbled and grabbed her.
Solomon said the two of them fell to the floor and he grabbed the victim and held her.
“My arm was around her neck and I held her until she died,” he told the Parole Board, calling his actions “not planned” and “not intended.”
“I was just, like I said, grossly reckless,” Solomon added.
A judge in February 1989 sentenced Solomon to 18 years to life in prison at a Riverhead court proceeding, at which he apologized to his wife’s family, while singling out her mother as he spoke.
“Anything that happened was truly an accident,” Solomon said at the time, adding that not a day had gone by that he hadn’t prayed to Lisa Solomon.
But Weaver told Newsday on the day of her ex-son-in-law’s prison release that “the justice system is broken.” She added that “prisons were built for people” like Matthew Solomon and he shouldn’t have been set free.
Last week, she reacted to the account Solomon gave the Parole Board, saying in part that she didn’t remember a time when he had given so much detail about the crime. But Weaver said she would never believe her daughter’s death was an accident.
“He could have stopped at any time. He could have stopped and called 911 … I think he kind of buttered it up … He tried to make himself look better,” Weaver said.
The grieving mother also said she didn’t believe the murder happened exactly as Solomon described it or that he truly was remorseful.
“He had all these love affairs,” Weaver said, pointing to Solomon’s two marriages behind bars. “When did he grieve for my Lisa?”
A message left for Solomon at a relative’s home wasn’t returned last week.
He told police in a videotaped confession at the time of his arrest that he and Lisa had quarreled after a dinner of lobster and Champagne before they got into a struggle and he strangled her.
Solomon said he then used garbage bags he bought at 7-Eleven to wrap her body before dumping it in a nearby field, then pretending she was missing and later taking part in searches for her. One of Lisa Solomon’s cousins found her body during a search nearly a week later.
Solomon described for the Parole Board what it felt like to live for days with “the charade of not willing to face what I had done,” and participating in searches for the wife he knew was dead before playing the role of grieving spouse at her funeral.
Police became suspicious of Solomon after he made suggestions to Lisa’s relatives about the types of places to search for her.
“I couldn’t live with myself anymore and almost immediately upon being brought in for questioning I gave in to the questioning. I finally decided that the shame wasn’t working,” Solomon said. “The guilt I couldn’t deal with anymore and … I gave a full confession to the police.”
Solomon also told the Parole Board he made the decision at that time to “seek out ways” to “never be in this position again.”
Solomon added: “There would never be another victim based on my action again.”
A commissioner noted during Solomon’s interview that the inmate had “four misbehavior reports” during his confinement and that he’d largely managed to follow prison rules.
The Parole Board also asked Solomon to explain his understanding of why he was so angry at the time of the crime and how that led to deadly consequences.
Solomon said he suffered abuse from his war hero father that made him insecure, something he tried to mask with alcohol and anger.
The board noted that Solomon had “very comprehensive parole release plans,” with one commissioner also telling him: “You’ve been moving yourself forward in your rehabilitation, so that is noted.”
The board noted that Solomon’s daughter, born out of his second marriage while he was behind bars, had made a “very moving and very compelling” case for his release in a letter she wrote on behalf of her toddler son — Solomon’s grandson.
“She’s never known you outside of you being in prison, correct?” a commissioner asked Solomon of his daughter.
“Correct,” he replied.
Solomon told commissioners he had a job offer at a home repair and remodeling company, planned to live in a small town and recognized sobriety was “paramount."
He also told the Parole Board he hoped the victim’s family “understands how truly sorry I am,” and that he had “transformed” himself behind bars, welcoming the church and new family into his life while developing communication and problem-solving skills.
“I just want everybody to know how truly sorry I am and I’m just seeking the chance to prove that,” Solomon said.
Six days later, the Parole Board made the decision that soon would allow him to live in upstate Broome County under what state officials said would be close supervision.
It was a decision the victim’s mother said last week she could no longer worry about after years of trying to keep her daughter’s killer off the streets.
“Whatever happens to him is no concern of mine anymore,” Weaver said. “He can’t hurt me anymore.”
EXCERPTS FROM SOLOMON'S PAROLE HEARING
“My arm was around her neck and I held her until she died.” — Matthew Solomon to the Parole Board in March, describing how he killed his newlywed wife, Lisa Solomon, in 1987.
“I just want everybody to know how truly sorry I am and I’m just seeking the chance to prove that.” — Matthew Solomon to the Parole Board.
“You’ve been moving yourself forward in your rehabilitation so that is noted.” — a Parole Board commissioner to Matthew Solomon in March during his bid for release from prison.
THE VICTIM'S FAMILY
“Whatever happens to him is no concern of mine anymore. He can’t hurt me anymore.” — Diane Weaver, the mother of slaying victim Lisa Solomon, reacting to hearing what her daughter's killer told the Parole Board.