FBI, Waterbury PD
Point Fingers At Each Other
By John Murray
Editor & Publisher
The Waterbury Observer
She couldn't go.
Janice Smolinski knew that if she drove to Shelton she'd be on her knees clawing at the earth to uncover Billy. No, she couldn't go, Janice and her husband Bill had to first process the devastating information they had just read in the Waterbury police report. After three years of searching for their 31 year old son, the Smolinskis now believed they knew what happened to Billy when he vanished from his life in August 2004. The moment that Bill and Janice Smolinski had long sought was here, but it wasn't playing out the way they'd imagined.
nstead of a personal visit to their home by FBI agents, the Smolinskis were in the middle of the Barnes and Noble Cafe in downtown Waterbury sitting with five journalists and a private investigator. Three coffee tables had been pressed together to accommodate the gathering. The group was surrounded by customers playing chess, holding book discussions, studying for tests, or thumbing through potential $25 hardback purchases. The bizarre surroundings made perfect sense in a case fraught with absurdity.
From the very beginning Bill and Janice Smolinski had difficulty getting the Waterbury Police Department to take Billy's disappearance seriously. Problem #1 was that Billy was a physically fit 31 year old male who appeared capable of fending for himself. Problem #2 was that Billy's neighbor had told police that Billy had headed north for a few days to check out a car, and had asked the neighbor to care for his German Shepherd, Harley. In the morning when the neighbor went over to Billy's house to feed Harley he was unable to get into the house. The spare key that was supposed to be under a mat wasn't there. The neighbor called Mary Ellen Noble, who also cared for Harley, and within minutes an alarm blared through the Smolinski family.
Billy would not have left his dog locked in his house unattended, his parents said. Billy didn't need a new car, and he wouldn't have traveled north without telling his family. The Smolinskis are a close family and Billy lived with his parents into his late 20s. Bill and Janice Smolinski immediately recognized something was wrong, but were unable to get the Waterbury Police Department to share their concern. Law enforcement officers across the country go into a heightened state of alert if a child goes missing. The media snaps to attention when children, or attractive young women disappear, but when a vigorous 31 year old man goes missing, nobody cares.
Except his family.