In October of 2005, I received an unsolicited phone call from a private investigator who said he wanted to talk to me about “something I would be interested in.”
*Please keep in mind, that in 1998 I married my soul mate, became a Christian and we were living a fantastic life together, finally. And in this chapter, I need to go a little ahead to go backwards. You’ll see what I mean as you read*
So, when I received this unusual phone call, at first I chalked it up to being a prank, maybe. At any rate, I was not truly interested in meeting with this mystery investigator, and at first I put him off. However, he continued to call. When I told my husband, Al, about it, we both decided we would go ahead with this “meeting”, but that Al would have to be present. So we made the arrangements, and the PI would come to our home and talk to both of us.
When he showed up, after exchanging pleasantries and introductions, we sat down in our family room and I curiously waited what it was he had to say. He began by asking me if I knew of a man by the name of Roy Brown. I thought for a few seconds, then answered “no”. He went on to explain that Roy Brown was doing time in Elmira State Correctional for a murder that he did not commit. I immediately wondered what on earth this could possibly have to do with me. The investigator further continued to explain the circumstances and my involvement in Roy Brown’s attempt at exoneration. I think, when his story began to sink in, that I went into shock for a few seconds…. and I began to cry.
This story is quite complicated, but the gist of it is: in 1991, my common-law sister-in-law, Sabina Kulakowski, was murdered at the BB family farm in Aurelius, NY. This woman was BB’s brother’s common-law wife… got that? For all intents and purposes, she was my sister-in-law. The murder was particularly gruesome and received huge media attention at the time, and they arrested and brought to trial this Roy Brown for the murder. He was convicted and sent to prison. However, Mr. Brown has consistently maintained his innocence (don’t they all?) throughout his 12 years behind bars, and had been desperately trying to prove his innocence all this time ~ per the private investigator ~ without success. Well, Mr. Brown convinced the infamous “Innocence Project” to help him, and that’s when they began in earnest to try to track me down and bring me into the fray. Mr. Brown, and now with the help of attorneys from the Innocence Project, had come across evidence that seemed to point the finger at BB as the potential murderer, and not Roy Brown. The timeline from 1991 when the murder was committed, puts BB and me domestically “together” at the time.
This investigation would put me in the center of an increasingly urgent appeal. Mr. Brown was critically ill and in danger of dying due to liver problems and eventually failure. He needed to be exonerated, if possible, in order to get out of prison and have the lifesaving liver transplant needed to survive. If he has unsuccessful, he would die in prison, innocent or guilty. An additional complication was the fact that BB had committed suicide on December 29, 2003. So, without the primary suspect available to be questioned, the Innocence Project was literally piecing a puzzle together, that included DNA testing that would prove or disprove the murderer.
Over the course of the next year or so, my family and I would receive requests for interviews from attorneys, sheriffs, district attorneys, television and magazines as the saga wore on and we would eventually find out if BB was, indeed, a murderer.
“Sabina had been beaten, bitten, stabbed and strangled.”
On May 23, 1991, BB and I were in the midst of our own battle, yet again. It was a particularly brutal fight that started in the afternoon and continued on through the evening. The kids, in their infinite wisdom, had known early on to keep to themselves upstairs until it was over. I don’t remember exactly what started it this time, but know that it was particularly heated and became physical. I was throwing BB out of the house for a change, rather than me taking the kids and leaving, and he wasn’t going without a fight, and every dime of cash that I had in my purse. He had taken all of his things (mostly just clothing, but also a fire department call monitor) and had packed everything into his car, and it looked like he would be voluntarily leaving. When he returned to the house for whatever reason, one last time, he decided that he would ransack my purse and take whatever funds I would hold inside for himself. His audacity never ceased to amaze and infuriate me, so the argument and then the physical fight ensued. Somehow we ended up in the kitchen, each pulling at my purse with all our might trying to take it from the other. When I saw that I may lose that battle, in an instant I grabbed for the nearest weapon I could find that might give me an upper hand against this 6’4″ aggressor. I found myself swiping at him with a large butcher’s knife that I had pulled from the counter. Fortunately or not, I missed the connection and he (after he got over the surprise) decided to quickly take his leave without my purse contents. He ran out of the house and took off around 8 pm. I didn’t care if I ever heard from him again!
“When it comes to DNA testing, there’s no mistakes. DNA is GOD’s creation and GOD makes no mistakes.” Roy Brown
In helping Mr. Brown find the truth about the real killer of Sabina Kulakowski, my daughter (and BB’s) Katie, was asked if she would submit a sample of her DNA to be compared with the tee shirt evidence found near the crime scene. By this time, of course, Katie and I were totally on board to help in any way get to the bottom of this issue. BB was already gone, having committed suicide, so there was no reason not to cooperate and help clear a potentially innocent man after he’d already spent 15 years wrongfully imprisoned. By now, we had been pretty involved in the exoneration portion of the case. I had been questioned extensively over the course of two full days by the Cayuga County Sheriff’s department. Evidently, for some reason, they were of the opinion that I “knew something” and wasn’t telling. I was coached for hours and pressed to tell the truth because “it was okay now”, and they wouldn’t hold anything against me if I just told the truth. Thing is, I had nothing to tell. I remembered that night pretty well, and, if what they were saying was true, I would’ve been the first person to see BB after he would’ve committed the gruesome, horrific murder just a few miles from our home. I remember seeing him, and there were no telltale signs of anything amiss. He was calm, even after the horrendous fight we’d had earlier in the evening. I don’t recall anything unusual about his clothing… there was no blood, he wasn’t disheveled. Based on what I recall that I saw that night, I wouldn’t have thought he could’ve committed a murder. Yet, the DNA definitely proved otherwise. But, until 2005, I didn’t have a clue that anything was out of the ordinary. Which meant, my family and I continued to live with a murderer from 1991 to 1998 ~ 7 years.
At the end of this post, I’m going to include several links that you can follow to learn more about the specifics of the case, and all the various media that covered it. There was a “local” movie made about the circumstances called “Blanchard Road”, by Alex Dunbar and it was shown at a local theater in Syracuse upon Roy Brown’s release. I managed to get a copy. It was also highlighted on an episode of “On the Case” with Paula Zahn. You can Google any of these things and find even more information.
Admittedly, I am, to this day, torn about this episode of my life. I’m thankful Mr. Brown was eventually exonerated, freed, received his liver transplant in time, and received a multi-million dollar settlement from New York State. However, I don’t know if I’m just plain in denial, or BB did such a good job of covering it up (which is doubtful), but there still remains some doubt in my mind that he committed this murder. Just a hint. He was not that smart or had enough foresight to be able to hide all remnants of such a vicious murder from the first person to see him shortly after it occurred. Trust me. And yet, there were no signs. But besides the DNA proof that was unearthed, there did remain a few personal indications to me (specifically) that could further confirm BB’s guilt: the victim was beaten, stabbed, choked and bitten. Three of those four methods I had known BB well enough that it could be considered his MOA (method of operation), as I had been his victim many, many times over the previous years.
**Note ~ the name of this chapter came from the letter that Roy Brown wrote to BB right before BB committed suicide in 2003. See the “Roy Brown letter.pdf” link above to read what he wrote.**
**Chapter 9 is currently stalled but forthcoming in a day or two.**