Detectives unearthed a grisly family secret Friday when investigators charged a Long Island man with murdering his uncle after an argument over estate money and allege the suspect then buried the elderly man in a shallow grave behind his home, Nassau County police said March 7.
Nassau County detectives had been searching for the victim, John Frankowski, 71, for nearly a week after his son reported the accountant missing from his New Hyde Park home.
The victim’s son, John Frankowski, Jr., an attorney who lives in Flordia, told reporters he spoke with his father every day and reported him missing on March 1 after he couldn’t reach him by phone for several days. Police said the elder Frankowski was last seen on Feb. 27 near Roman’s home.
Frankowski’s family members, including his daughter, Kim Delaney, wept in the courtroom as prosecutors said Roman strangled the elderly man to death and then tried to conceal the homicide by digging a shallow grave in a wooded area behind his Coram home.
Michael Kaszubski, an attorney representing Frankowski’s family, said investigators started questioning Roman after becoming aware of a prior incident where Roman had allegedly harassed and threatened Frankowski about money from an estate fund after Frankowski’s mother died last June.
He said Suffolk County police had been called about the incident last month and that a police report had been filed. It was unclear if the investigation led to any criminal charges.
“His life has been snatched from him and this is all over money,” Frankowski, Jr., said after Roman’s arraignment Saturday. “Apparently my father was not moving quick enough for everyone, so they took matters into their own hands. That’s what we believe it to be and that’s all we have right now to go on.”
On Friday, investigators were seen saturating the area around Roman’s home on Grove Avenue in Coram. Police cadaver dogs located Frankowski’s body buried in a wooded area behind Roman’s home Friday afternoon. Detectives believe Roman murdered Frankowski after an argument escalated.
The victim’s son said Frankowski had warned his neighbors that he was afraid Roman was dangerous, telling them, “If you ever see him, call the police…he’s a threat and I’m afraid of him.”
“And he was right,” Frankowski, Jr., said. “He killed him.”
During his arraignment, Roman – wearing a white jumpsuit and a bandage wrapped around his left wrist – told Nassau County District Court Judge Andrea Phoenix that he was an electrician by trade, but has been out of work since August 2012 and was collecting public assistance.
In addition to ordering Roman held without bail, the judge also marked Roman’s court file for “medical attention.”
He is scheduled be back in court on Tuesday.