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02-04-07, 01:25 PM #1
Dad: Don't bury that man near my daughter
Accused killer hanged himself before trial, gets grave near victim
February 4, 2007
BY KRISTEN MCQUEARY Daily Southtown
Raymond Kowal sat in his car and watched quietly as the body of the man accused of murdering his daughter was lowered into the frozen earth at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery -- the same Evergreen Park cemetery where Vicky Kowal was laid to rest shortly after last Father's Day.
Edward Smith was awaiting trial for first-degree murder when he hanged himself last Sunday in his Cook County Jail cell.
He was accused of slashing Kowal, 27, with a kitchen knife in a random attack on June 15, just a few blocks from her home in the Morgan Park neighborhood. An off-duty police officer and several neighbors caught Smith as he tried to run away.
Raymond Kowal said he was astonished to learn that Smith would be buried in a Catholic cemetery, and he was angry that St. Mary Cemetery officials didn't move Smith's body to another cemetery.
"First, he does that to my daughter and puts our whole family through that, and then he escapes punishment by committing suicide, and now he's being buried in the same cemetery," said Kowal, who went to the cemetery at 87th and Pulaski with other family members Thursday to protest the cemetery's decision to allow Smith's burial there.
'Let God be the judge'
Roman Szabelski, executive director of Catholic cemeteries for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, said both families were Catholic and had family members buried there.
"One family doesn't trump another family," Szabelski said. "Both have the same rights in the eyes of the church to be here. Yes, he was an accused murderer, but I'm not the judge. Let God be the judge."
Kowal, a member of St. Cajetan parish, said he's haunted by his daughter sharing the same resting place as her accused killer.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, a Catholic who died by suicide was placed in an area of a cemetery considered unconsecrated ground. But church officials have since dropped that practice, Szabelski said. Murder is a sin, he said, but "that's why we have the sacrament of reconciliation."
Kowal attended Smith's court appearances. He was looking forward to his conviction and sentencing as a way to find closure. He said he is considering moving his daughter's remains to another cemetery but is torn because her grandparents are buried there, and his ex-wife, Vicky's mother, bought a plot nearby.
The motive for the killing remains largely a mystery. Smith had apparently grown distraught and temperamental after the death of his mother six years ago. His last known address was in Tinley Park.
On the evening of June 15, he and Kowal crossed paths near 109th Street and Artesian Avenue on the South Side. Smith lunged at Kowal, who was walking down the street after picking up a job application, according to police. It was unclear why Smith was in the area and what set him off.
Caught by off-duty cop
Kowal's murder drew headlines because Smith -- whom neighbors had described as a frequently erratic "nut case" -- was disarmed by an off-duty policeman working in his garage hours after being promoted to the rank of captain.
The armed officer, Gerard Carroll, apprehended Smith after telling him, "You don't bring a knife to a gunfight."
Last Sunday, jail guards delivering breakfast trays found Smith slumped in his cell. A bedsheet was strung from a metal shelf and wrapped around his neck. He left a suicide note but did not address the attack, according to the sheriff's department.
Rare but thorny problem for cemeteries
Relatives of Elsie Sinclair were shocked to learn in spring 1995 that her killer, Tyrone Benjamin, was about to be buried just a few plots away from her in a Toronto cemetery.
They prevailed upon cemetery officials, who met the Benjamin family procession as it entered the cemetery. They offered to dig a new plot for Benjamin on the opposite side of the cemetery, but the family refused and Benjamin was buried near his victim.
About a month later, the Sinclairs won a court order requiring Benjamin's body be exhumed and reburied in another cemetery. Benjamin, 28, had shot himself after shooting 29-year-old Sinclair, whom he had dated for three weeks.
Five years later, in Cottonwood, Calif., relatives of Annette Selix were alarmed to learn her killer, Darrell Rich, would be buried 100 feet from her grave in Cottonwood Cemetery. Annette was 11 years old when Rich threw her off a bridge to her death.
No grounds for exhumation
Rich, a serial killer convicted of four murders and five sexual assaults, was scheduled to be executed at San Quentin prison, then buried next to his mother at Cottonwood.
After a legal fight, Rich allowed his mother's remains to be exhumed, and after his execution he and his mother were buried in another cemetery.
Still, cases of killers being buried near their victims are rare enough that the Archdiocese of Chicago's Judicial Vicar Patrick Lagges has never heard of such a case and doesn't know what recourse a victim's family would have.
Roman Szabelski, archdiocesan director of cemeteries, has said that the church would not have the authority to refuse Edward Smith's family the right to bury him in St. Mary Cemetery in Evergreen Park.
Legal experts say state statutes on cemeteries offer no grounds for a victim's family to seek an order for a killer's body to be exhumed in such a case, though anyone can file a lawsuit about just about anything. Most never make it to trial.
ABDON M. PALLASCH
"I am the guy that keeps Mister Dead in his pocket." -'Mad' Max Rockatansky
"An Englewood Ranger is no stranger to Danger.." -Unk
Good Night Chesty Where Ever You Are.
A Good Friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you in the cell saying, "That was Awesome."
God Made Police Men so Fireman Would Have Heroes.
02-04-07, 02:50 PM #2
If they keep him there, I'd make it a point to go over and pee on his grave every visit.\\` ` ` ` < ` )___/\
`` ` ` ` (3--(____)
"...but to forget your duck, of course, means you're really screwed." - Gary Larson
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