Sunday, October 01, 2006

AP Story On Smolinski Case

FBI steps in to help in case of missing man

Posted @ and

October 1, 2006, 2:58 PM EDT

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) _ The FBI has agreed to help Waterbury police in the case of a man who vanished more than two years ago.

Billy Smolinski was 31 years old when he disappeared in August 2004 after asking a neighbor to look after his dog while he took a three-day trip to look at a car.

City police say their investigation has hit a dead end and hope federal authorities can help solve the mystery.

"We feel we did all we can do from the local perspective," Police Superintendent Neil O'Leary said. "The case was investigated as thoroughly as it could be."

Waterbury police asked for the FBI's help in August, requesting a joint local-federal investigation.

"It is our belief there is a likelihood of foul play involved in the disappearance of Mr. Smolinski," Deputy Police Chief James Nardozzi wrote in a letter to a Connecticut FBI official. "However in our quest to locate Mr. Smolinski we also believe we have exhausted all avenues of investigation available to us."

O'Leary said Saturday that police have never ruled out foul play in Smolinski's disappearance, but local authorities have never said definitively that it was a factor.

"One of the three things happened," O'Leary said. "He may have disappeared on his own accord and, hopefully, he is alive and well. There may have been foul play; someone may have harmed him and that's why he is missing. Or he may have disappeared and took his own life."

Members of Smolinski's family have been frustrated with the investigation, saying city police have ignored their concerns. They have also accused police of being negligent and careless in attempts to solve the case.

His family has repeatedly spoken to the FBI, put up posters of him and contacted a private investigator.

The private investigator, Andy Thibault, asked for Waterbury police's file on the case under Freedom of Information laws. The state's Freedom of Information Commission ruled last week that police must turn over the documents within a week. The commission will decide which papers can be released.

Smolinski's mother, Janice Smolinski, said she hopes the FBI can help locate her son.

"Whether the FBI's participation will help remains to be seen," she said. "We've heard many promises that never came through."


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