By: Anna Petrisky
No one cares as much as we do. That's the impression I receive from the parents of Billy Smolinski. Previously to me arriving at their lovely home, I went on an Internet search to familiarize myself with more facts of Billy's case. A love triangle with a married politician, possible connected deaths, lost evidence from so-called responsible parties, and the FBI. All the elements of a great Hollywood movie. However, this isn't Hollywood. The city of Waterbury and the town of Woodbridge don't have script to follow when it comes to finding
Billy; and it shows.
A lack of effort and seriousness may be the cause of a case gone cold. Various aspects in this case have not been handled correctly from the beginning of Billy's disappearance. If you "Google" Billy, the list of mistakes, drama, and unanswered questions arise. You'll even run into the link for his MySpace page.
How could this be, that Billy's case has not yet been solved? I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for Jan and Bill. This shouldn't have happened, not to them, not to anyone's loved one. It is a heavy burden resting over their heads. It's a cloud that won't go away, that won't fade away.
Billy is gone. There are answers and we will get them, especially with a firecracker like; Mrs. Smolinski. She put a flame under the Waterbury Police Department and it's keeping the fire lit to help keep Billy's case out of the file cabinet. There are false assumptions that nothing can be done. However, there is an effort to make changes.
Jan is pushing for a bill to pass through legislation with the proper handling of DNA. The bill entails a free service that is funded by the government (National Institute for Justice) to preserve DNA found from cases that provide such and Connecticut needs to be included and join states like Florida and New Jersey, in using such a service. Unidentified bodies are sometimes discarded without any DNA sample taken. Therefore leaving families without answers; forever.
Billy Smolinski has been destined for greatness. If this bill passes, it will add to the irony from his name and it will also show that his life was meant for something greater than just being another missing person. The Smolinski's son has been missing since his age of 31 and it has been accepted that he is no longer alive. It only heightens the motivation for Bill and Jan to find their son.
Childhood memories that Jan and Bill reflect upon, describe Billy as being athletic, funny, and having a soft heart for the underdog. Stories such as, Billy (when he was a kid) gave cans to a homeless man, he along with others, decorated a Christmas tree at his bus stop and later found out that a lowered-income family took it and replaced it with a note, saying "I was too poor to buy my kids a tree this year, I saw this one, I hope you don't mind that I took it~you made our Christmas." Attached to the note was a small bottle of Schnapps.
Someone knows something about what had happened to Billy. They have families too, why don't they act like it? Although everyone's time on this Earth is temporary, no one should have to live their life in this kind of pain or any other related circumstance. It is like a disease with a death sentence. Crimes like Billy's are a growing epidemic. We need to find a cure. We need to find Billy.
Trends in Homicide Rates Survivors often gets question concerning murder rates and trends in Connecticut compared to the nationwide statistics. Here are some charts that outline some facts.
# of Victims
Connecticut Homicides by Weapon
Nationwide Homicide Statistics from 1975-2005
Numbers are shown by percentage. This data is from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
Although murder rates have flip flopped over the past five years, the majority of those killed by homicide in Connecticut are between the ages of 18-34. Comparatively, the nationwide statistics reflect these same numbers. Offenders are also primarily young adults as well. Unfortunately, homicide seems to affect those at the prime of their life and is most often caused by their peers.
Another very obvious statistic is the enormous amount of homicides that are committed by firearms. Historically these numbers are double or triple the rate for other weapons. These numbers show the importance of SOH working with agencies like Connecticut Against Gun Violence to take illegal guns off the street and make gun sellers more responsible.
If you are interested in seeing more information please visit: http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov and http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/hmrt.htm.
Characteristics of Homicide in Connecticut A Few Moments of Inspiration
I know that there are times in our lives where we feel hopeless. Crime, murder, and violence seem to penetrate many aspects of our daily lives. I know that many times I ask myself, “Where has compassion for our fellow man gone and is there good still left in this world?”
I wanted to share some books of inspiration that can show us that there still our many people in this world who do so much for others. I hope that when any of you feel down you would consider picking one of these up. We do so much for each other that sometimes we forget to take a moment for ourselves to refuel.
-“ One Moment Can Change a Life”-By Steve Goodier
- “Tuesdays With Morrie” – By Mitch Albom “An old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson.”
- “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”- By Mitch Albom A story that reminds us that we never truly know how many people’s lives we have touched through the course of our own.
-“Life Lessons”-By Elisabeth Kubler-Ross The "lessons from the edge of life culled from the authors' patients include letting go of anger, guilt and fear; learning patience; mourning and accepting loss; playing, laughing and enjoying life; and surrendering to what can't be changed.
- “The Celestine Prophecy”By James Redfield About how we find what we are looking for when we least expect it if we just open our minds and selves.
-“Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul” By Robert Ackerman, Peter Vegso, Theresa Peluso, Jack Canfield, and Mark Hansen This book underscores the tenacity of the human spirit. Find inspiration for change and personal growth in each story within its pages as people in this dynamic community share their experiences of transformation, of lives reclaimed, of relationships renewed and futures full of promise.
-“Man’s Search for Meaning” By Viktor E. Frankl Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.
-“No Time for Goodbyes: Coping With Sorrow, Anger, and Injustice After a Tragic Death By Janice Harris Lord Offering hope and useful suggestions to those grieving the loss of a loved one, this guide provides outlets for feelings of grief, anger, frustration, and disappointment. It is devoted to the unique grief suffered by the families and friends of persons killed suddenly and violently. This book provides self-affirming skills of emotional expression that will help get survivors well again.
-Ghost Rider: Travels On the Healing Road By Neil Peart In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. This memoir tells of the sense of loss and directionless ness that led him on a 55,000-mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again. He had needed to get away, but had not really needed a destination. His travel adventures chronicle his personal odyssey and include stories of reuniting with friends and family, grieving, thinking, and reminiscing as he rode until he encountered the miracle that allowed him to find peace.
Your honor, I would like to express to the court and Jacquinda, what the impact of my daughter Jane's death has had on my life. Jane was 25 years old and the mother of Serenity who was three years old. There is no way to bring Jane back to us, but today I want to speak to her, so the court and Jacqunida can hear my pain.
Jane, when I heard about your death and the police said that you had been shot by Jacquinda, I felt numb. I was in shock, I couldn't move. All I could think about was getting to you. It didn't matter that you were gone. I needed to be near you and Serenity needed us. I started crying and cried all day long. I cried in the car all the way to Virginia. I cried at the police station when we talked about you and what had happened. We asked if we could please see you. I cried myself to sleep that night.
We were not able to have Serenity stay with us. They didn't know who the family was and she had been put in the care of social services. It was a Friday and we wouldn't be able to have her until Monday. Not only did we have to deal with the pain of losing you, we could not even have Serenity, your daughter, with us.
The next day we had to go through your personal belongings. I don't know how I functioned as well as I did. I was in shock, numb. I only knew that we had to get this done. We would not be in VA again for a long time. I was so sad to see the clothes you wore, the jacket that used to keep you warm, the pictures of your daughter Serenity, that you had up in the house. I remembered how you were so proud of her and took her with you everywhere you went. I am devastated that she will never be able to share the love of life that you were able to bring to all the lives of your daycare children and others.
You often come into my mind with your big smile and laugh. I have lost a wonderful person who was a part of me. You were someone who believed in the goodness of people and trusted, even when warned of danger. I am angry and saddened that I could never convince you of the danger that lurked in your life. I am heartbroken that I will never see you smile or hear you laugh again. I feel so much anger that you had to die such a violent death from someone you trusted. You should have been allowed to live to enrich the lives of all those you had touched.
When I came home from VA I would sit in the house and cry some more. It was like being struck by a lightening bolt and being blown into a million pieces. It was as if a hole had been ripped in me, as if all my skin had been seared with flames. Every cell in my being was rearranged. You were part of me and now you had been fiercely torn from my soul. How was I ever going to heal? Would I ever smile again? I used to go to work and cry while I was working. I didn't know if the tears would ever stop.
Eventually the tears would stop for short times, but they always come back. They still do. I can be going about my day and some small thing will trigger a memory of you and I will start to cry. Just as it takes an enormous amount of time to heal seared skin, it will take as long and maybe longer to heal my seared soul. The violence that took you from me is not a one time act of violence. It has been repeated and affected me everyday since.
After this first happened I couldn't work. Some days I would just have to go home. I would go to work but I was not able to function. I have had to see a counselor to help me rearrange my life. Some of my close friends have gone because they don't understand the changes. I still have days when you are with me and I am not able to function. This act of violence will never be silenced. It is repeated in my head almost every day. My sleep at night is restless. My dreams are frequently riddled with images of you and your last moments; I wake up many times a night and often have trouble returning to sleep. I always feared that this day might come.
Jane, I hope that your death will not be in vain, that Jacquinda and others may learn from this tragedy. You did not deserve to meet such a violent end. Having to come here and speak to the court about this has brought it to the surface and renewed the pain that had started to heal. My wounds are open again and I am not sure if they will ever close.
Former Survivors of Homicide President, Dee Clinton passed away on June 28th 2009 after a long battle with lung cancer. After her son, Buzz Clinton was murdered in 1994 Dee became active with SOH and later became president of the organization. She was dedicated to victims’ rights and rallied against injustice in our criminal justice system.
We send our thoughts to the Clinton family during this very difficult time. Dee will be greatly missed.
$50,000 Reward For information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of (Getrude) Trudy Ochankowski.
On Monday January 12, 1998, the East Hampton Police Department responded to a report of the body of a woman found in a stream just off of Tartia Road in East Hampton, an area known as Engel’s Falls.
The victim, Gertrude Ochankowski, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was manual strangulation.
Gertrude had been the subject of a missing person’s investigation earlier that day after her car was found running in the front parking lot of 82 Main Street in East Hampton. Witnesses saw her car running with her dog inside as early as 9:30 p.m. on January 11, 1998.
Governor M. Jodi Rell has authorized a $50,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved with Gertrude Ochankowski’s murder.
If you think you know this individual or can provide any information about this incident: