Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Missing Tuesday - Billy Smolinski

Janice Smolinski’s passions used to be gardening and jet-skiing. Now she devotes all of her energy to finding her missing son. She is sure that someone, somewhere knows something about her son’s disappearance. He was last seen by a neighbor on August 24, 2004, and has not been heard from since that date.

William Paul Smolinski, Jr., known as Billy to family and friends, was born on January 14, 1973, to Janice and William Smolinski, Sr. He attended Kaynor Technical High School for three years and then Naugatuck High School for one year, graduating in 1991. He studied auto mechanics at Naugatuck Valley Community College for one year, as well as for his CDL in Bridgeport, CT. He was considering pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Billy is an athletic guy who loves fishing, hunting, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and going to demolition derbies. He also loves listening to music and working on cars. He enjoys drinking beer with friends, and going for cheeseburgers or barbecue at Big Franks in Waterbury. He would often drop in at his younger sister Paula Bell’s house in the morning with a bag of bagels. Billy had no history of drug use, did not have a police record, and did not drink to excess.

He worked as a part-time tow truck driver for Durable Towing and was a full-time apprentice heating and air conditioning technician at Midland Heating & Air Conditioning. He also mowed lawns in the summer and plowed driveways in the winter to earn extra money. He was a dependable employee and had just been offered extra hours at his part-time job. He was physically and mentally in good health.

Billy was last seen at his home at 130 Holly Street in Waterbury, CT, between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. on August 24, 2004. A neighbor said that Billy rang their doorbell and told him he was going out of town for three days to look at a car he was considering buying and asked them to watch Harley, his five year old German Shepherd dog, while he was gone. When the neighbor went to check on the dog and let her out the next morning, the house was locked and no one was home, but Billy’s truck was in the driveway. A key that was supposed to be hidden outside the house was not there. It is unknown how Billy left the house, whether he was driving someone else’s vehicle or was in the company of another person. The neighbor said Billy was acting normally and did not seem agitated when they saw him.

The Smolinski family found his behavior to be odd, since Billy had just returned from a vacation in Florida, and it was out of character for him to leave town without telling them, especially leaving the care of his dog to someone other than a family member or close friend. At the time he vanished, Billy was a first-time homeowner and was getting his house ready to paint when he had some spare time. Friends reported that Billy was very excited about having his own house and was planning home improvement projects. Inside the house, there was no indication that Billy was not planning to return. A receipt from Burger King time-stamped 2:59 p.m. was found in the trash inside the house, indicating that Billy had picked up the meal right before he spoke to his neighbor and that he had definitely been inside the house before he saw the neighbor. He had unpacked his suitcases after returning from Florida just 48 hours earlier. Also, Billy was devoted to his dog and would never have left without having arranged proper care for Harley. He treated her like his child, and it was seeing Harley left unattended that made alarm bells go off for the family.

Upon learning of his behavior, his family contacted the Waterbury Police Department and wanted to file a missing persons report immediately. Waterbury police refused to take the report and insisted on waiting three days, the time that Billy had specified to his neighbor that he would be gone (to their credit, the police department has since changed their rules about missing persons, realizing that evidence and clues can disappear and trails can go cold quickly). So it was three days before any investigation was begun, even though Billy’s truck was sitting in the driveway. Billy’s wallet and keys were found inside the white Ford pick-up truck. The truck was not checked for fingerprints, nor was it impounded. Prior to his disappearance, Billy deposited most of his last paycheck in his bank account. His accounts have not been accessed since he vanished, nor has his Social Security number been used.

Rather than waiting for the police and their three-day waiting period to be up, the Smolinski family sprang into action, doing everything they could to find Billy: putting up missing person flyers where they would be seen, calling everyone they could think of, contacting the media. Yet, Billy’s former girlfriend Madeleine Gleason and her friend Frances Vrabel were caught on film tearing down the missing person posters, often within minutes of when they were put up.

Gleason claimed that the Smolinskis were targeting her in some way by saturating her neighborhood and the places that she went with the flyers. She went so far as to sue Billy’s mother and sister Paula Bell as well as the Waterbury Observer newspaper in 2006, saying that they were harassing her and that the flyers had damaged her reputation at her job at B and B Transportion, where she worked as a bus driver. The Smolinski family put up flyers by the thousands all over Connecticut and as far away as Grand Central Station in New York, everywhere they could think of that people might see them, in an effort to find Billy. Gleason is not a suspect or even a person of interest in Billy’s disappearance, but her behavior is certainly suspicious for someone who has nothing to hide.

Gleason is several years older than Billy. Just days before Billy’s disappearance, they took a vacation together to Florida. They quarreled during the trip because Gleason kept receiving calls on her cell phone from another man, a married man named Chris Sorenson that Gleason was involved with. When they returned to Connecticut on August 22, after having dated for a year, the couple broke up. After the break-up, Billy went to Gleason’s house in the middle of the night to talk to her; she said that when he left, he was a little depressed but seemed all right otherwise. Although he was angry about Gleason cheating on him, Billy’s family says he was not despondent over the break-up and did not seem bothered much at all.

According to Billy’s phone records, the last three phone calls Billy made were to Sorenson on August 24, but Sorenson said he did not see Billy at all that day. Sorenson said he recognized Billy’s voice on one call, telling him to watch his back.

Madeleine’s lawyer, high-powered Connecticut defense attorney John Williams, has stated that he does not believe Billy is missing at all but went off on his own free will. At first, Waterbury police also believed that Billy left of his own accord. By 2006, the Waterbury police department had exhausted all leads and asked the FBI for assistance. The FBI disagreed with both Gleason’s lawyer and the local police: they believe foul play is involved in Billy’s disappearance and that he was murdered.

Billy’s mother Janice was arrested by the Woodbridge, CT, police for trespassing while putting up flyers about his disappearance; the charges against her were eventually dropped. The family believes the arrest was at the instigation of Madeleine Gleason.

Several years after Billy went missing, the Smolinski family was shocked to learn from a source close to the Waterbury police that Billy’s missing persons file contains information that he was murdered. Police received a tip that Madeleine Gleason’s son Shawn Karpiuk killed Billy and told a friend that Billy got what he deserved, and that he and a friend had buried his body. Karpiuk died of a drug overdose in 2005.

In 2008, Chad Hanson, a local man, was named in at least two anonymous tips as Karpiuk’s accomplice in Billy’s murder. When questioned by police, Hanson claimed to have helped bury Billy off Bungay Road in Seymour, CT, although he said he had no part in Billy’s murder. He said that he helped Karpiuk bury a barrel in a wooded area but did not realize that Billy’s body was inside until later. After a massive police search of the area turned up no evidence, Hanson admitted that he had lied and that he had no idea what had happened to Billy Smolinski. Hanson was serving out the remainder of a jail sentence at a halfway house in Waterbury for charges relating to Billy’s disappearance (making a false statement and interfering with a police investigation) when he escaped. He was recaptured after being on the run for a week.

In April 2012, the family hired a private detective to search a site in a wooded section in Shelton, CT. Jean Petrucelli, a cardiac nurse who lives very close to the area, believes she saw Billy’s white pick-up being driven into the woods followed by a smaller red car as she sat on her back deck on a summer evening in 2004, right around the time that Billy vanished. She noticed the two vehicles because she had never seen vehicles being driven into the woods before, nor has she seen any since. She noticed that the truck had unusual headlights, big and round, and that the grill on the front of the truck was flat; when she saw a photo of Billy’s truck, she immediately identified it as the same type of vehicle, if not the exact same truck. The two vehicles scraped against the trees as they forced their way into the woods. A police investigator agreed to meet Ms. Petrucelli after she contacted them in 2012, but he did not keep the appointment and police never followed up with her, until the private investigator began looking into her story and found evidence that may relate to the case.

The Waterbury police have agreed to reinvestigate the case from the beginning, based on new evidence and leads that were not investigated in 2004. It is always difficult re-visiting a case so many years later: witnesses move out of the area or have passed away; memories are not as clear as at the time of the event; evidence has been destroyed deliberately, by accident, or by nature. The family feels that the police ignored tips in 2004 and did not follow through on other leads. In 2012, the Waterbury police began a complete review of the case from scratch.

In August 2012, the lawsuit against Janice Smolinski and Paul Bell came to trial, and Madeleine Gleason was awarded $52,000 in damages for defamation of character. The Smolinski family is appealing the ruling. Families of missing persons are fearful that if the ruling is allowed to stand, it could alter the way they distribute flyers and disseminate information about their missing loved ones. It could also open the way for any potential witness or suspect to sue a missing person’s family for attempting to locate that person. Many people feel the ruling is blatant censorship and in violation of the Smolinkskis’ first amendment right to free speech.

William (Billy) Smolinski Jr. was 31 years old when he vanished; today he would be 39. He is a Caucasian male, with short light brown hair and blue eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 lbs. He is slightly bow-legged. His left ear is pierced and he wears a small diamond stud earring. He has a tattoo on his left forearm of a blue cross with the name Pruitt incorporated into the design; on his right shoulder is a tattoo of a blue cross outlined in orange. He does not smoke. When last seen, he was wearing a gold rope chain with a cross pendant, blue jeans, a blue work shirt and work boots.

If you know anything about William Smolinski’s disappearance, contact the Waterbury Police Department, 204/574-6941.


  1. Isaiah 5:20
    King James Version (KJV)
    20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! To the Smolinshi my prayers are for and with you!!! I can believe your story as truth because I believe in Jesus Christ or Lord and Savoir. Rest assure that God know all and see all. Trusting, knowing, believing and, having the faith in God that His will be done! This is so obvious with lies, foolishness and, confusion. But where the is God there is no confusion for God is a God of order,,,,there is NO order here. Give it all completely to the Lord and He will give you peace. All WILL be reveal before our Heavenly Father and that is a promise to all! May the love, peace and the spirit of the Lord be wit you and your family. Always keep in your mind that they persecuted JESUS and He overcome so will you because you are more then conquer! God bless the Smolinski and comfort you Amen.

  2. Heart breaking is such an understatement. I have so little faith in police depts.

  3. Chad has given tips that were later found to be he. He did not think they would find out he was the one making the call, but clearly he did. Now. Six foot tall, and 200 lbs, means a very tall man had to overpower Billy to hit his head with a hammer, and that hammer had to be in a garage or to hand in a car workshop. A 'signature' is why as John Douglas states in his book. So why would Bill be taken to a wood in his car and if he was really going to see a car or truck and picked up someone that would mean that garage is the crime scene?

    But if Billy was expecting to be away a day or so, and not three days as the evening of the 24th, the 25th, and the 26th coming back during the day it makes sense he had to make this drive or be driven. Fact. He had eaten and made calls, had prepared the dog care and had the truck in his drive and no keys or wallet. So that means he was taken in his car and then whatever happened the car had to be returned soon after by someone. Someone who knew where the key was to enter the house? Now that can be a number of people but who?

    Where the nurse saw the cars to me is a rendesvou place as two cars to include Billy's takes on a Mafia type 'signature' as seen in the current two international cases of murders in such places. But from this wood in Shelton it seems that Billy's car was returned 'without Billy'?

    Therefore the handover or confrontation had to be here as no body found? This setting seems chillingly like an ordered crime of murder due to some unknown modus operandi. But the 'signature' is there - the why. He had trod on someone's toes who had power and if he did this normally - fine. But if at this time he had used threats and confrontation then historically that would lead to protection the other end by any means.

    Chad has said of a murder, and of a blue rug, and that is an attempt to say this murder was not in the open air, not in a graveyard, but in a place where a carpet was on the floor and was easy to roll up. A fitted carpet. A rug that was never rolled up, but lay on the floor is my visual takea on what Chad says. His semiotics show he has remembered the blue as a colour, but he has not shown how he lifted the rug and the contents without spilling fluids or the supposed victim - Billy - into the already formed cavity. That to me says Billy is in a graveyard of a grave dug and open on the 24th of August and taken there and just rolled into it off a 'blue tarp', not a rug, and might have done so easily off a hearse or a vehicle. It is historically a method and a 'signature' as to method and 'why'. Does this make sense to those FBI that can check the records of graves open as the size of the victim and weight would be outside someone who was smaller?

  4. Chris Sorensen is on the board of East Side burial Grounds in Woodbridge, and if Billy "somehow" ended up there it could go a long way in explaining the feverish attempts to keep Billy's posters and even his family members far away from Woodbridge. It's not difficult to imagine a longtime politician having influence over a police department to the point that a mother can be arrested to "defuse the situation"...arrested for hanging posters of her missing son. Another thing that desrves a close look besides just when the closest to August 24 burial took place is to look for any connections between Sorensen and Chad Hanson. Not at all farfetched considering that Sorensen has a landscaping company and Chad worked for a different landscaping company called TopGun that just by the way also employed Madeleine Gleason's son Shaun karpiuk and also employed another gentleman named Timmy Driscoll who just by the way was the third person reportedly present when Shaun overdosed on heroin and died . According to a Waterbury Police Report, Shaun died in the company of Driscoll and Hanson. Interestingly enough, in the Chad Hanson arrest warrant relating to this case, Chad states that Driscoll and several others were working with him on a roofing job on what is presumably the day Billy disappeared. he goes on to say that he later met up with Shaun at a different job site in Shelton.(Got all that ? )I personally have doubts about what really happened to Shaun karpiuk who has no criminal record except for one charge of disturbing the peace- not so uncommon among young men. I feel bad saying he's the one named as Billy's murderer, since he is no longer alive to defend himself, but unfortunately that is the info that was given by Chad and also by others including a gentleman who called Crimestoppers in 2006

  5. and just to add to my above comment: Not saying that Sorensen is guilty of anything, or that Madeleine is guilty. But Madeleine does make herself look very very guilty of "something" with her destruction of Billy's posters and her mean-spirited (actually despicable) campaign of lies against him and his family who just want to find him and have justice served. Justice For Billy in 2013 from: Mrs Tommy R

  6. There are SO many coincidences here a puzzle could be cut , taken apart and reassembled by a blind person! There is a Top of the Hill Lndscaping company I have heard of in seymour, I believe, and there are several roofers I have known of including a Lanteri from Naugatuck as well as Arsenaults from Waterbury. Tommy Arsenault also died of an OVERDOSE about 5 years ago...Roofers and landscapers and construction people often know each other, tree people do too, sometimes they share jobs, equipment, sometimes they go to barsa nd pubs together, share stories, play softball together..there is another person named Joseph Walsh in construction odd jobs from Watertown/danbury areas that may know somethiing...keep looking, asking, digging searching

  7. I think it is absurd that Ms. Gleason won any kind of a settlement. I'm so sorry for Billy's family. I saw one of the MISSING flyers in a rural CT town years ago, and have never forgotten. I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN! I truly hope law enforcement never forgets, either. I am so sorry, Mr. and Mrs. S. I only hope justice comes to you somehow--someday--sooner than later.

  8. May 2015 be the year this family gets closure

  9. Was Gleason's name on the flyers ? Why didn't she HELP put the flyers up rather than take them down ? I pray the family appeals this bullshot ruling, is that judge senile or something ? What happened to the Smolinski's right to free speech ? Seems to me she ( Gleason) was feeling guilty. I've never seen anyone snatch down missing person posters. Her son is dead and gone it would seem she could do the right thing and tell this family anything she knows. I believe God sees all and knows all and we do reap.what we sow. I pray for the Smolinskis.

  10. You reap what you sow. Madeline Gleason has no shame. She should have helped put the flyers up. If her name wasn't on them how did it affect her? What happened to free speech ? It would seem the police would have found Gleason's actions suspect. And what was that arrest thing about ? I couldn't believe that. What a sorry ass police department !!!

  11. A Healthy Normal person would have helped search and hang more posters...
    I suppose that sums it up.

  12. A Healthy Normal person would have helped search and hang more posters...
    I suppose that sums it up.

  13. The flyers are also posted in Stratford Ct-I have seen them.

  14. who here belives shaun karpiuk killed Billy?

  15. It's obvious that Madeline Gleason did not love Billy Smolinski anymore. After a call that night Billy storm out to Madeline's house from there her son must have knock him out. Billy was a big man and was not seen anymore. To protect their mother Madeline I think they dump him in a field with long grass away from the town of Waterbury. Then they drove near his house and left the Billy's key and wallet under the truck where nobody could find it. Making a real mystery where Billy was.