The truth arrived in Southold Monday morning when Suffolk County investigators and town detectives dug deep into the basement of a house on Lower Road and found skeletal remains wrapped in burlap.
A woman’s skeletal remains. They could see the remnants of a brightly colored dress she had worn on the very last day of her life.
The home was once owned by William Boken, who up until the fall of 1966 was a Southold town cop. He was married to Judy Boken, and was also seeing Louise Pietrewicz, a 38-year-old Cutchogue farmer’s wife who worked at the soda fountain in the pharmacy on Main Road in Cutchogue. They likely met over the counter when he came in on a break.
The discovery of bones that are almost certainly those of Louise puts an end to the question of what had become of her after she vanished in October 1966 in the company of Mr. Boken. The discovery of remains tells investigators that she was likely murdered by Mr. Boken and buried six and a half feet in the sandy soil of his basement, where they lay until early afternoon Monday.
But this story doesn’t end there. It can’t end there. The search for truth must go further. The discovery resolves one mystery: What became of Louise? But it opens another set of mysteries and questions that, more than a half-century later, deserve attention.
We can sum them up this way: Why did officials and police in Southold Town in October 1966 and in 1967, apparently do so little, if anything, to find out what had happened to her?
Louise’s family was so convinced town police did not care to find out anything that her sisters went to the state trooper barracks near Riverhead a full two weeks after her disappearance and filed a missing persons report. Two trooper investigators were assigned, Tom Cobey and Dick Fairchild.
It is also clear from the surviving town record and from interviews with participants that the town police — as Mr. Cobey and Mr. Fairchild were closing in on Mr. Boken — picked him up at his house and took him late one night to the home of a town justice, who then had him committed to a psychiatric institution without even the pretense of a medical examination.
To the two state trooper investigators working the case of Louise’s disappearance, this was a deliberate effort to shield Mr. Boken from them and his certain arrest for her murder.
One of those troopers, Mr. Fairchild, angrily told retired trooper Bud Griffiths in 2013 that he believed town officials did not want Mr. Boken arrested due to personal behavior issues among certain local officials that Mr. Fairchild characterized as something out of “Peyton Place,” a television soap opera.
In other words, in Mr. Fairchild’s view, town officials were covering up for themselves by covering up for Mr. Boken. An investigation today by an outside agency could help find out what, if any, truth there is in that assessment.
Louise’s family — her daughter, Sandy Blampied; her surviving sibling, Leo Jasinski of Riverhead; Louise’s niece, Beanie Zuhoski of Cutchogue; and others — deserves a more aggressive effort to find out why local authorities did nothing in 1966.
That effort could also pry loose state mental health records showing exactly what Mr. Boken was doing in the psychiatric hospital and if there was any medical reason for it.
Another point that must be made: Based on interviews we have done, it is clear that Mr. Boken’s brutal treatment of his wife was widely known among some town officials. They knew he beat her; some knew he threatened to kill her.
Had officials moved against Mr. Boken for those crimes, perhaps putting him on trial and sending him off to a prison term — would Louise have gone on to live her life with her daughter?
Could an investigation by an outside agency determine if Mr. Boken’s wife, now Judith Terry — whose detailed account to town police that her husband buried the body in their basement led to Monday’s discovery — told anyone else that story?
If so, whom?
Caption: William Boken, center, with fellow Southold Police Department officers in a photo that has long hung on the wall at police headquarters in Peconic.