Photo: LATINO BLOTTER: Body of 17-Month-Old Found, Mother's Boyfriend a Person of Interest
The body of 17-month-old Justin Kowalczik was found in a Long Island backyard and police are looking at the boyfriend of his mother, Robert Rodriguez, as a possible suspect.
The grisly find came after a Suffolk County Child Protective Services worker arrived at the home Heather Kowalczik, 29, the boy’s mother, and Rodriguez lived in with two other children, a 6- and 9-year-old. The two older children are Rodriguez and Kowalczik’s, but Justin was not Rodriguez’s.
The CPS worker was there for a wellness check on 6-year-old Alex who is autistic. While being interviewed, the mother reportedly “broke down” and told the cops “what Robert did,” saying baby Justin’s body was buried in their backyard. The child’s death had not been reported.
When authorities dug up the yard and found the child’s body, Rodriguez, who was not home at the time of the search, immediately became a person of interest. When Rodriguez learned of the search, he pulled Robert Jr. out of school and took off. An Amber Alert was issued and police were able to find the pair. Investigators say Rodriguez is “not cooperating,” but has not been arrested.
Justin Kowalczik was born in 2009, and while neighbors say they had known of the pregnancy, the mother told them she had been in a car accident and lost the baby. The body was reportedly buried in July 2010, though it remains unclear how he died.
Police say Rodriguez did not live in the house the family was renting, and the landlord has already stated she is “disgusted” and does not want them coming back.
As of Sunday, no arrests had been made in the case.