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Candlelight Vigil On Naugatuck Green Marks Eight-Year Nightmare For Smolinski family
Janice Smolinski applauds U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy's comments about 'Billy's Law", the federal legislation that was triggered by the disappearrance of her 31-year-old son, Billy, eight years ago.
Story and Photograph By John Murray
Eight years after Billy Smolinski vanished from Waterbury, Connecticut, his family continues to seek answers to what transpired on the night of August 24th, 2004. Billy was involved in a love triangle and had left a threatening message on the voice mail of his male rival. It was the last telephone call he ever made.
When Billy disappearred his family immediately reached out to the Waterbury Police Department for help. They were told to wait for three days, and even then the local police were sluggish to investigate the disappearance of an adult missing male. Terrified, the Smolinskis organized their own search parties and hung thousands of missing person flyers all across western Connecticut. When hundrds of posters were vandalized and destroyed in and around Woodbridge, the Smolinskis entered the lion's den. They discovered that Billy's former girlfriend, Madeline Gleason, was the person destroying the posters. Woodbridge was where Gleason worked, and was the home of the married politician, Chris Sorensen, who had been the other male in the love triangle.
Janice Smolinski was later arrested for hanging missing person flyers in Woodbridge, and was later sued for harassment by Madeline Gleason, who shockingly just won a $52,000 award in New Haven Superior Court against the Smolinski family.
It's been eight years of hell for the Smolinski family, and they are appealling the verdict issued by Judge Thomas Corradino. The Waterbury Observer will be publishing an in-depth article about Judge Corradino's outrageous decision in it's September issue. As always with the Smolinski case, there is more to a $52,000 award than meets the eye.
Jan and Bill Smolinski's dogged search for truth has triggered local, state and federal changes in the way law enforcement officers respond to the report of a missing adult. They are determined to find their son, and give him a proper burial. Justice for the murders, they believe, will follow.
Last night the Smolinski family staged a candlelight vigil on the Naugatuck Green entitled "Night of Hope." And despite the horror they've endured these past eight years, the message throughout the night was hope, and the deep belief that their answers are coming.
Bill Smolinski remembered the day Billy refused to give up, and with his car in tatters, won a demolition derby and a first place trophy.
U.S. Congressman Chris Murphy is the co-sponsor of "Billy's Law", federal legislation triggered by the Smolinski case that will train law enforcement about the data banks used to connect unidentified human remains with DNA samples from missing individuals. The bill passed the U.S. House of Represenatives unanimously, and is now bottled up in the U.S. Senate by the partisan stalemate in Washington D.C.. Murphy is now a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and is confident the legislation will eventually be signed into law.
The 200 people who attended the vigil were either touched by the Smolinski family, or have a loved one missing.
Jan and Bill Smolisnki light their candles from their daughter's candle. Paula Bell is Billy's little sister and spearheaded the family's initial efforts to find Billy.
Waterbury Police Chief Michael Gugliotti spoke at the vigil about his department's renewed commitment to solving the Smolinski case. Gugliotti, despite administering to a 300 member police department, is personally involved in the investigation. Gugliotti has admidted to the mistakes the Waterbury Police Department made eight years ago, and is determined to bring closure to a case that has haunted the Smolinskis, and the Waterbury PD, for eight years.
Paula Bell helps her two children, Brad and Tori, release butterflies in honor of their mising uncle.
The weather was perfect for the vigil and hundreds of family and friends showed up on the Naugatuck Green to reflect on the life of Billy Smolinski, and the uncertainty that haunts tens of thousands of families across America.