The daughter of a Cutchogue woman whose remains were found last year in the cellar of a North Fork home — more than 50 years after she mysteriously disappeared — says in court papers filed last month that Southold police and town officials failed to properly investigate her mother's killing and helped cover up her death.
Sandra Blampied of upstate Middletown said the notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit against the Town of Southold and the Southold Town Police Department, will help her obtain justice for her mother, Louise Pietrewicz.
Pietrewicz had been fatally shot before her body was buried in the cellar of the Southold home that once belonged to her lover, former Town of Southold Police Officer William Boken, Suffolk police have said. Suffolk and Southold police found Pietrewicz’s remains in the cellar in March 2018, decades after she vanished, thanks in part to the use of ground-penetrating radar.
“My mother was murdered,” Blampied said. “People knew about it and did nothing about it.”
Town officials and a lawyer for the family of the police chief at the time of the homicide have denied the allegations.
Pietrewicz’s disappearance was the subject of an exhaustive 10,000-word article and documentary series posted in October 2017 by The Suffolk Times, and Blampied said the story and the documentary series sparked renewed interest in the case.
The notice of claim cites investigators’ notes obtained from Suffolk police by The Suffolk Times through a Freedom of Information Act request and made public online in January. The notes say that shortly after Pietrewicz disappeared, Boken’s ex-wife, Judith Boken Terry, told then-Southold police chief Joseph Sawicki Sr. that Boken had murdered Pietrewicz and buried her body in the cellar of their Lower Road home.
A few months after Pietrewicz disappeared in October 1966, Boken was arrested after his wife filed a domestic violence complaint with police. Boken resigned from the Southold police and “disappeared” in New York City, Suffolk police said. He died in 1982.
Sawicki Sr. died in 2013, but his widow Constance Sawicki issued a statement in January through her attorney that confirmed that Boken Terry had told Joseph Sawicki Sr. that a body had been buried in her cellar. The statement, issued through attorney Brian Egan of Patchogue, said Sawicki Sr.and two New York state troopers did search the home shortly after Pietrewicz disappeared but did not find her remains.
Subsequent searches in 2013 and 2018 also proved fruitless, the notes said. At Boken Terry's urging, police did a deeper search of the basement with the radar and found the remains.
Egan called Blampied's allegations that officials covered up and failed to properly investigate the murder “a reckless distillation of the facts.”
Southold Town Attorney Bill Duffy also denied Blampied’s allegations. “In 1966, based on the information we had and the technology that was available, we did an investigation and we did do a search,” Duffy said.
Blampied said Pietrewicz was 38 when she disappeared. She had met Boken in a drugstore and at the time, her mother was trapped in an unhappy marriage. Her father, Albin Pietrewicz, was physically and mentally abusive, she said.
The last time she saw her mother, Blampied said, was right before she left home for school in 1966. State Police and Southold police launched an investigation after Pietrewicz’s family reported her missing, but it went nowhere.
“I was without a mother for all those years,” Blampied said. “I’ve cried barrels of tears over this. She needs to be respected and she needs justice." She said: “I never once got an apology … They are still looking the other way.”
Shortly after The Suffolk Times posted its report and documentary, Boken Terry, now a resident at a Suffolk County assisted living facility, began cooperating with Suffolk homicide investigators. She told police, according to the investigators, that she had seen her husband drag Pietrewicz’s body into the cellar of their Colonial-era Lower Road home and bury it. When Boken assaulted her not long after Pietrewicz vanished, Boken Terry told investigators according to the notes, he had told her “Keep it up and you will end up in the basement just like the other [expletive].”
William Keahon, an attorney and spokesman for Judith Boken Terry, said: "Her ex-husband was an animal. Her life with him was day after day of torture … There were so many lives destroyed by this guy. He was a true psychopath.”
Duffy said the town will conduct a municipal hearing to depose Blampied and other parties to get a better understanding of Blampied’s claim. Blampied’s attorney Ted Rosenberg of Holtsville said he has asked a state judge to permit discovery before the suit is filed because many of the witnesses in the case are elderly and struggling with failing health. Duffy said the town and the police department will oppose Rosenberg’s request.