Members of William and Michelle Becker’s family joined Suffolk Times reporters in a live chat Monday, answering questions from readers about the 1981 investigation into the Mattituck couple’s drowning deaths.
The Becker death investigation was back in the news this week after DEC police announced a $15,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with new information about the decades-old case that leads to an arrest and conviction. The announcement came on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the couple’s deaths, which local police quickly determined to be accidental, but family members and DEC investigators have long found suspicious.
DEC police Maj. Scott Florence said several facts surrounding the case make the deaths appear suspicious, despite what investigators said at the time. For starters, Mr. Becker’s tie was found on the floor of a nearby boat owned by the man whose gathering the couple had attended earlier that evening. A dining table in the boat’s cabin was broken off its hinges.
“Today, you would look at that and go, maybe there was a struggle and his tie got pulled off and the table broke,” Maj. Florence said.
Joining Suffolk Times staff members in the chat were the Beckers’ oldest son, Tim, and Ms. Becker’s brother, Michael Malkush of Cutchogue.
The idea for the live chat came as The Suffolk Times received questions from readers about its look into the investigation, which was first published online last Wednesday.
“We recognize that it was a fairly lengthy, complicated read and a lot of people walked away from wanting to know more,” said Suffolk Times executive editor Grant Parpan, who wrote the piece with managing editor Joe Werkmeister. “One of the more challenging aspects of publishing the story was just how rich in detail the 49-page case file is and how sometimes statements contradict each other and become difficult to explain in one piece.”