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Toddler’s Remains Found Buried In Farmingdale Backyard

Mother’s boyfriend considered ‘person of interest’

On Wednesday, Oct. 3 an investigation by Suffolk County Child Protective Services (CPS) was initiated of the health and welfare of a six-year-old child, parented by Robert Rodriguez, 30, and Heather Kowalczik, 29. The initial investigation revealed that another child, Justin Kowalczik, born in 2009, would be approximately three years old, was unaccounted for in the couple’s home.

The Suffolk County CPS investigation into Justin’s whereabouts, led them upstate to enlist the help of Orange County Child Protective Services.

The New York State Police, Troop L Headquarters in East Farmingdale, near Republic Airport, were called in to assistance by the state police unit in Middletown, New York, to interview Rodriguez and Kowalczik when the toddler could not be located upstate.

According to state police, Kowalczik said that Justin died shortly after she relocated to Long Island in July 2010. She failed to report his death for more than a year, according to police. Police said she did give the location of the toddler’s remains, buried in the backyard of the Hallock Road property in East Farmingdale, at the residence that she shares with Rodriguez and the other two children.

State police obtained a search warrant and began digging a section of the backyard on Friday, Oct. 5. Police located the toddler’s remains in a shallow grave, along the backyard fenceline at the Hallock Road residence.

Police then identified Rodriguez as a person of interest. Although Rodriguez is not the father of the deceased toddler, he and Kowalczik have two son’s together, the six-year-old who sparked the initial CPS investigation, and a nine-year-old.

Police said that in the course of the investigation, it was reported that the couple’s nine-year-old son was not in attendance, but removed from the home by Rodriguez when the investigation began. Their whereabouts were unknown, and an Amber Alert was activated. Rodriguez and the son were located a short time later; the boy was unharmed, according to police. Kowalczik and the two boys have been removed from the home, to protective services, according to police.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9 at approximately 10:45 a.m., Luigi Lancia, the landlord of the Hallock Road dwelling, the residence where Rodriguez and Kowalczik were renting, arrived with packing boxes and tape in order to evict the couple from the house. Within an hour, Rodriguez’s personal effects had been removed by his own attorney, Byron Divins, Jr. of Divins & Divins PC in Garden City.

“The landlord does not want him [Rodriguez] here anymore, so as an accommodation we’ve taken his personal items and vacated the premises; Mr. Rodriguez will not be coming back,” said Divins.

According to Divins, police have not questioned Rodriguez. “At this time, my understanding is, police consider him a person of interest, but they have not held him in custody.” The family’s remaining things were moved to the curb by the landlord later in the day.

Neighbors of Rodriguez and Kowalczik who were outside of their own homes, observing the eviction, declined comment when approached by the Farmingdale Observer.

A small memorial of flowers and a spool of blue ribbon, which symbolizes protecting children, has begun to appear at the front yard driveway fence. Next to it, a teddy bear with a note attached reads, “Rest in peace now little one.”

The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s autopsy and the state police’s investigations were still ongoing as of Tuesday, Oct. 9. No one has been charged with the death of Justin Kowalczik as of Oct. 9. Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the state police, Troop L Headquarters at (631) 756-3390.

News

Driving rain and cold temperatures could not keep Long Islanders from coming out to support the first annual DogFest Walk ‘n Roll, a fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence. Held for the first time at Marjorie Post Park in nearby Massapequa, dogs of all breeds and sizes came with their humans with one goal in mind; to raise funds for CCI.

 

Event organizer Yvonne Dagger, past president and now board member, discussed the importance of the event. 

It’s been more than 50 years since the Farmingdale High School class of 1964 roamed the halls of their beloved high school, but that doesn’t mean that the memories have faded. The class—the first to graduate from Farmingdale High—came together on Saturday, October 18 at the Marriott in Islandia to celebrate all of the good times past and make new memories as a class.  


Sports

3rd Grade Division

The Giants and Jets met for the 2nd time this season, with the Giants again getting the victory over the Jets.  Jalen Gordon scored late into the 1st half for the Giants, which turned out to be the only points in the half.  The Giants shut the Jets down for both halves, keeping the offense off the board.  The Jets strong point this weekend was the defense, with Kyle June and Jake Kuller picking up the weekly William June Foundation awards.  In what is turning into a rough offensive season for the Jets, these awards continue to remind the boys of the perseverance and determination of the award’s namesake and his “never say quit” attitude.

 

—Submitted by Paul Caputo


William Merola, a member of the Farmingdale School District’s wrestling program, was recently selected to attend the third annual U.S. Marine Corps Summer Leadership and

Character Development program, which is limited to 150 sophomores and juniors throughout the nation.

 

Over the summer, from July 20-26, Merola attended the third annual Marine Corps recruiting command summer leadership and character academy at the USMC base in Quantico. 

 

The SLCDA (Summer Leadership and Character Development Program) educates high school leaders about Marine Corps Officer Programs by participating in classroom academics, ethics training, accelerated college prep, physical fitness training, a field exercise, a community service component and a field trip to Washington, D.C.


Calendar

Networking Event - October 29

Halloween Parade - October 31

Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com