Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022 • 41min

Where's My Lisa? (Lisa Weaver)

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A young wife goes for a walk on Christmas Eve, but never returns home. While her husband steps into the intense media spotlight, police question a mystery man she met through work.
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Speakers
(3)
Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
Scott Weinberger
Howard Clerk
Transcript
Verified
Break
Speaker 2
00:33
Of course all the houses are decorated with lights. Some people have christmas, music playing and everybody is all happy and we're desperately looking for somebody who's missing.
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Scott Weinberger
00:58
I'm Scott Weinberger, Investigative Journalist and former Deputy Sheriff.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
01:03
I'm Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, former
New York City
Homicide
prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's True Conviction.
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Scott Weinberger
01:10
And this is "Anatomy Of Murder."
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01:16
Today's story takes us out to
Suffolk County
Long Island
which is about eighty miles east of Manhattan. It is 1987 and Anna-Sigga, I know you grew up on
Long Island
in the'80s?
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
01:28
So, I did grow up on
Long Island
and also in
Suffolk County
and I was there from the time I was five until I went to College. So, I certainly remember the'80s well. It was about the hair and if you lived on
Long Island
, you maybe had the nails, the makeup and I certainly had maybe not the nails but everything else going on and maybe just maybe I'll put up a picture on social media if I am brave enough to do so. I certainly looked different.
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01:54
But you know, they say like a
Long Island
girl. It was definitely the time of the mall and the music, all of that was really on fire.
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Scott Weinberger
02:02
For today's podcast. We spoke to Howard Clerk who also grew up on
Long Island
and he can recall how it's changed over the years.
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Howard Clerk
02:11
When we were growing up. It was like being way out in the country. We had a huge chicken farm when I was growing up, we had about ten thousand chickens.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
02:19
And his niece was Lisa Weaver and our story today is about her. She also grew up on
Long Island
during the eighties and in the eighties she was in her early twenties.
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Howard Clerk
02:30
She was a very pretty girl, very vivacious. She was also a cheerleader in High School.
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Scott Weinberger
02:36
Lisa Weaver was extremely popular in high school, she was about five foot three, she was a standout gymnast and also a cheerleader.
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Howard Clerk
02:44
She was a member of the kick team, she was a member of the Ecology Club. I mean my God, every guy in town I think wanted to go out with Lisa at one time or another. She was that pretty and that charming.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
02:56
And while Howard may have been her uncle, the two shared an incredibly special type bond.
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Howard Clerk
03:02
Biologically, Lisa was my sister's daughter and my niece, but over the course of the years as she was growing up, I actually became a surrogate father.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
03:13
Because of some complications within Lisa's own family. Howard really raised her as a father would a daughter.
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Howard Clerk
03:20
I spent some time actually helping her grow up. So, to me she was a daughter. I mean there was no two ways about it. She lived with us for a long period of time.
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Scott Weinberger
03:30
In fact Lisa thought so much of her uncle that on October 25th, 1987 at the age of twenty-two she had him walk her down the aisle.
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Howard Clerk
03:39
She was as happy as could be at the wedding, my God and she smiled any bigger face would have fallen apart. It was just, it was her day, I mean my God, she was on cloud nine.
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Scott Weinberger
03:50
But sadly two months after Lisa began her happily ever after, tragedy struck.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
03:56
And for so many reasons this wasn't just any day. I mean this was Christmas morning.
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Howard Clerk
04:02
We were up in Maine early Christmas morning I got a call from my youngest son and he told me that Lisa was missing and I said what are you talking about, who's missing?
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
04:13
Howard and his family got a call from her husband Matthew, that Lisa had gone for a walk the night before and had never come home.
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Scott Weinberger
04:21
They had spent the night together, they had dinner, they were watching television and she said she wanted to go out for a walk and needed to clear her head. He fell asleep and waking up about three hours later only to find out that she had never returned.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
04:36
And so when he woke up and realized she was missing, Matthew right away called the police.
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Scott Weinberger
04:40
Matthew went on to tell Lisa's mom that he went out searching for her and he was really, really concerned that he could not find her.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
04:47
You know, whenever there's someone missing and obviously you're going to look at what was crime like at the time in the'80s, we did definitely see an uptick in crime because drugs, crack were on fire. Now in the suburbs, you didn't see those same type of numbers as you did in the city, but it was definitely the type of thing that was lurking below the top.
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Howard Clerk
05:05
It was not a very safe place to be a friend of mine was a police officer and that was part of what he patrolled a day, didn't go by when he wasn't rolling in the street with somebody.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
05:16
But for Howard and his family, it was right away. All hands on deck. They weren't even thinking about the what. They just wanted to know the where. And that meant finding Lisa.
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Howard Clerk
05:26
So early in the morning of 26th of December of'87, we got in the car and we started heading back to
Long Island
to try to find out what the heck went wrong. And then we started the search for Lisa.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
05:39
You know Scott, if we just think for a moment any loved one, spouse, significant other, just knowing that that partner didn't come home after an entire night thoughts?
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Scott Weinberger
05:50
Well, there's definitely some red flags here. I mean she left in the middle of a
New York
winter with no coat on. She also had an asthma condition and she always carried an inhaler with her no matter where she went, she didn't have the inhaler, she didn't have her pocketbook, she didn't have her car keys.
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06:08
She didn't have a wallet. So, this is definitely a suspicious
Missing Person
. But it also could be a medical situation where she did take that walk and then became disabled or disoriented to be able to find her home. So, no matter what this is, it's extremely troublesome.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
06:25
We've all probably been in a fight with somebody we care about at some point. And I admittedly had to take a walk to get that breath and you do like you walk out of the house and you don't have anything with you because it's just going to be a short walk. So, the fact that she didn't come home with all those other factors at play, it definitely sounds like something bad has happened. Whether it is natural, medical or more sinister. We have yet to find out.
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Scott Weinberger
06:49
But the next morning Matthew had assembled several of their friends organizing search parties to go out look for Lisa.
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Howard Clerk
06:56
We're going out day and night going almost around the clock. So, we just couldn't go anymore when we get a few hours sleep and go out and do some more searching.
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Scott Weinberger
07:05
But by this point, police still hadn't considered Lisa a
Missing Person.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
07:10
And just the stress of this situation proved to be too much for Lisa's mom.
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Howard Clerk
07:15
She was kind of sedated at the time, you know, trying to keep her down because she was worried she was scared obviously because Lisa was missing.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
07:23
But at the same time everybody is still hoping for the best.
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Howard Clerk
07:27
Everybody was hoping that we see Lisa again. I mean everybody loved her. I mean she was that great. I mean she was a lovable individual and like I say a major part of the family and as far as my sons were concerned, she was their sister. I mean that's the way it was.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
07:43
Scott, I'm turning to your journalist hat for a moment. A young woman goes missing in the middle of the night
Christmas Eve
, the type of story that media is going to jump on?
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Scott Weinberger
07:53
Just add these words together, you know, and the headlines would be obvious Newlywed Missing,
Christmas Eve
, Popular Cheerleader. That headline would right itself. It is a very big story and one that will draw a lot of coverage.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
08:07
And that's exactly what the story did.
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Howard Clerk
08:11
We had reporters everywhere. I mean my God, you're afraid to go to the bathroom in case he was a reporter in the bathroom. They were newlyweds. It was
Christmas Eve
, you know, Christmas and it was just a big, big thing that happened. But Matthew was doing everything he could to bring attention to his missing wife. Oh my God, every time there was a reporter he was right there.
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Scott Weinberger
08:30
He was standing in front of TV cameras pleading for her safe return.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
08:35
And we have all seen that on the news. I mean people to understand the power of media and so when they want to get the word out quickly they look to the public for help and that often means family and friends getting in front of the mic.
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Scott Weinberger
08:50
Lisa's husband Matthew Solomon, was a twenty year old sheet metal worker who was very physically fit and Lisa and Matthew had met while he was a mechanic at a local garage in town.
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Howard Clerk
09:01
Lisa had a car accident so, she didn't have a car, she walked to the stores which weren't that far away from the house and coming back she went past this shell gas station and this guy in there came walking out and started talking to her and that's how she met him.
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Scott Weinberger
09:18
She was smitten with him from the beginning and according to her family and friends they seemed to be off to a fantastic life together.
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Howard Clerk
09:26
And then there was an on off situation for a number of years they've been going out together and they fall apart, they go back together, they'd fall apart again and back and forth. It went for about four years.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
09:38
And I'm going to go there again because the more I heard it, the more I started to think it husband, husband husband, right? I mean we've seen too many of those stories that that's exactly where it leads, but again innocent until proven guilty. And I had to pull myself back and I start to think about the unfortunate, so many other cases that ended up very different about who had done something bad in the end, whether it is a stranger out there lurking, whether there was something else going on at play and quite honestly in my own life.
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10:10
And I think I reference since before you know I have unfortunately had family that has been the victim of
Homicide
on just a scenario like this walking home when all of a sudden they were taken and knowing that all those factors are at play, I have to take a step back on this one and start to look at these other things. Matthew her husband, he was being extremely cooperative no matter what police wanted to talk to him about if they wanted to look inside the house. He said yes, yes, yes.
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Scott Weinberger
10:37
He was upfront and told them that they had been drinking and he had fallen asleep while they were watching television.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
10:44
And then they had this argument that night which is what led her outside.
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Scott Weinberger
10:48
Apparently she became very angry at him saying, "how can you fall asleep on
Christmas Eve
?" He also said that she has in the past, asked to leave to clear her head to go out for a walk when they may have had an argument. But she normally would come back within fifteen or twenty minutes. But this time it obviously was different.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
11:08
And that could have been any one of us on that set of facts.
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Scott Weinberger
11:12
Matthew was always making a point to Lisa's family that he was doing everything he could do to bring her home. And within days of the disappearance, Matthew would be out doing his own detective work.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
11:23
But Matthew offered up all the information he had to police. He also gave police a name, Rob. He didn't know his last name. He knew that it was someone that Lisa had known through work. And he also knew that this guy liked Lisa, liked her a lot. But that Lisa had not reciprocated those feelings.
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Scott Weinberger
11:40
So, could Lisa's unreturned affection for Rob have led him to do something sinister?
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Break
Scott Weinberger
13:08
In her job, working as a loan officer at a local bank in town, Lisa would have frequent contact with many people. And there was one in particular the family was aware about. A man by the name of Rob.
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Howard Clerk
13:20
Rob was somebody who made an application for a car loan at the bank where Lisa worked.
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Scott Weinberger
13:26
Even though they had never met in person, he constantly asked her out during their phone calls together.
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Howard Clerk
13:32
He was smitten by her. This was even before they were even engaged. He called her up on a few occasions and she said no, don't bother me anymore.
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Scott Weinberger
13:41
Lisa would always declined saying that she was getting married, but those calls persisted and Rob wouldn't take no for an answer.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
13:49
So, hearing about this would police be thinking and looking for this guy Rob? And the answer is of course, and with her husband being cooperative and giving this name and saying that this was unrequited love. They've heard that line before and it usually doesn't turn to something good once the police are involved.
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Scott Weinberger
14:08
As it turns out, Rob would also take his affection to the next level by calling Lisa's family to wish them a Merry Christmas. Now he never talked to Lisa's mom, he talked to Lisa's sister Donna. But the question is, could he be involved in her disappearance?
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
14:22
But by all accounts, there was no relationship. So, I find that call particularly odd because what it says to me is that someone who doesn't know boundaries, they're telling you they don't want to be in a relationship and they're telling you they're actually a relationship with someone else. Now, why are you reaching out to the family? Right. And it is because obviously it sounds like he's trying to get to her. So, is he going to leave it alone there or is he going to go deeper and does that interest turn sinister?
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Scott Weinberger
14:50
You know, Anna-Sigga I think, that is a very bold move to call someone else's family that you're trying to date. I mean definitely forward leaning. But here's where the case takes a very interesting turn, investigators were already trying to identify and question Rob. But then an interesting lead comes in. Unsolicited, a woman calls to say that she's a psychic and she has information about Lisa's disappearance and I have a copy of the officers note from that conversation. I wanted to read it to you.
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15:18
Here's a portion, on the night of the incident Lisa was out in front of her home and someone she knew from high school came by in a Chevy van or Corvette and stopped in front of the residence and they had a conversation and then the car took off quote, "like a bat out of hell." Now, I've said this before in the podcast. I don't ever remember relying on any psychic information for cases. But you know, where do you come out on that Anna-Sigga?
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
15:45
Again, you know, could it be something? Sure. But in and of itself we don't know. He definitely is interested. He definitely is lurking about. But really what police decided is that while he's definitely on their radar, the best way to try to go one way or the other was to sit down and see if he would talk to them.
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Scott Weinberger
16:01
Using the documentation from the car loan, police were able to fully identify Rob and once they tracked him down and brought him in for questioning, he said he knew about the missing woman Lisa Solomon, but he only knew his loan officer, the woman, he was trying to date as Lisa Weaver and since they never physically met. And remember this is the'80s where there was no Facebook or social media, he didn't really know what she looked like. He only really knew her voice. And he gave police a solid alibi for
Christmas Eve
and that alibi checked out.
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Speaker 1
16:33
Rob on
Christmas Eve,
was in
Connecticut
with his family. He wasn't even in the state.
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Scott Weinberger
16:39
Rob was cleared by investigators.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
16:42
So, while Rob might be off police radar, they don't know who took Lisa if anyone because more importantly, they still don't know where Lisa is. She's still a
Missing Person
. So, the big question, the most important question is where could she be?
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Howard Clerk
17:00
We just went all over the place and they checked open fields like I said, they went to crack houses, they went everywhere and we just kept going in different places.
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Scott Weinberger
17:09
As Matthew and the family continued to search for Lisa. Howard made an interesting Discovery at a vacant Boy Scout campground.
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Howard Clerk
17:17
One day we went over and there was a big Boy Scout camp nearby. The camp was closed for the winter but there were these small buildings throughout the camp, we went through whatever building we could, we checked the doors and if they were open we went in and we checked them all out and I say we found this one building, we went in there and the fireplace was actually warm. You wonder like holy cow was somebody really held captive in here for awhile.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
17:45
Could it be that maybe she was abducted or something happened? That she was there alone or more likely with somebody and they had stayed in that place to keep warm?
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Howard Clerk
17:55
Your mind just keep working and just hoping for the best. Like maybe she was here and maybe she's somewhere else. You know, maybe she's still alive. After a couple of days you start realizing like maybe she's not alive anymore.
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Scott Weinberger
18:09
You know what always drives the adrenaline for search is hope, and even if it goes on for days and days, twenty hours a day, it's that adrenaline hoping that you'll find the person you're searching for.
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Howard Clerk
18:22
We just kept going in different places. They even went out further on the island and check the woods and so on.
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Scott Weinberger
18:29
The news coverage was continuing and Lisa was still missing. You know, Matthew was also expanding the search for Lisa. The more they widened out the search area, the more he asked for the public's help.
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Howard Clerk
18:40
He actually had a motorcycle group and evidently it was like a hundred of them. They've been all over the place.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
18:46
Just picture what that site must have been like.
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Howard Clerk
18:50
There was some nasty nasty places they went to.
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Scott Weinberger
18:53
Matthew was so determined to find her. He repeatedly put himself in harm's way. Even at one point he and a few of his friends went to a local crack house thinking that she may have been kidnapped and she was being held there.
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Howard Clerk
19:05
At one point they went to a place there and the police were there, the cops that didn't want to go in the building and they went in anyway.
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Scott Weinberger
19:13
They kicked the door down.
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Howard Clerk
19:15
They could hear people running out the back.
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Scott Weinberger
19:17
But Lisa was nowhere to be seen.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
19:20
So, now by the time
New Year's Eve
has rolled around, the search party has been going nonstop for a week. They are exhausted, but still relentless.
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Howard Clerk
19:31
Matthew, myself that sergeant, his brother Rick and a whole bunch of us went down once again along by the Northern State Parkway. We started going through the woods.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
19:41
So, that night it is freezing, it's well below zero, it's almost midnight. People are tired but they're not giving up.
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Howard Clerk
19:49
Around 11 o'clock at night. We said to hell with it we just can't couldn't go out anymore. We're just we were all exhausted, we're freezing and everything else. We went back to the apartment.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
19:59
And then they noticed that Matthew's friend comes in the house, whisper something his ear.
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Howard Clerk
20:03
And they ran down the stairs.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
20:06
And now the two of them run outside.
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Scott Weinberger
20:08
Could this be the news that everyone was waiting for? Had Lisa been found? But based on the whispers, Howard was thinking the worst.
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Howard Clerk
20:17
I said to Jerry, I said something's wrong here.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
20:24
It's
New Year's Eve
and Lisa's husband Matthew has just run out of the apartment, asked for his friend has come in whispering something in his ear. Howard doesn't know what's going on, but it just felt off.
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Howard Clerk
20:44
So, we ran down to and when we got to my car they were making a left turn at the end of the road. So, I started up kicked the CB radio on and I heard my son Steve calling me and I said, what's up Steve? He said we found Lisa.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
21:03
After those hours and days they've been searching. The search was now over.
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Scott Weinberger
21:10
We are going to take a pause here for a moment and go back a few hours in time to give you a bit of a different perspective from a person also involved in the search for Lisa. Her cousin Steve.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
21:22
Earlier that night as Howard and Matthew had called it quits, Steve had decided to search one more spot.
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Howard Clerk
21:29
There was an Auxiliary Police Officer by the name of Carl Heiden Wright. Carl said, "I have a couple ideas, I want to go somewhere else." And Steve said, "I'm gonna go with him." I said okay, you guys go and we'll stay down here. So, they went to the other side of town through the fields.
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Scott Weinberger
21:45
Lisa's cousin Steve, is in his fifth day of searching. But even the darkness of night and below freezing temperatures, they were committed to keep their search on and Anna-Sigga, you know the dedication here is so apparent.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
21:57
Which really is testament to the community and her family and the bonds that they are just not going to give up until they find her and bring her home one way or the other.
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Howard Clerk
22:10
There was a mound of dirt there and there were a bunch of garbage bags. You know actually had leaves and stuff in them that people had thrown in the field and they started kicking these bags of leaves and then Steve went already kicked this one bag and he said I had a different shape and he kicked his bag and it was solid as a rock and they split it open and there was Lisa and she saw her face, froze, her eyeball looking at him and that was how Lisa was found.
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Scott Weinberger
22:47
Wow. Just hearing the way Howard describes that find.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
22:50
Just makes the devastation of this loss all the worst. You know, there's a reason as prosecutors, we don't want to show family members,
Crime Scene
photographs, you don't want them to remember their loved one the way that they were left dead in this case likely
Murdered
. But here, that's exactly what they found.
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Scott Weinberger
23:07
I mean for the entire family, this is not what they had expected. And they really had held out hope that she would return home. And families of
Homicide
victims often talk about the range of emotions in these types of discoveries. You know, the obvious horror, but also a sense that you have an answer. It's a first step on a long road hopefully to justice.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
23:28
So, at least now the unknowing is solved and they have that answer where she's been.
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Howard Clerk
23:35
I was a horror scene. I mean, you know everything is going on so fast, you really don't think about much.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
23:42
And that is indeed Lisa inside garbage bags and I say garbage bags because it's not one but five and she is inside in the fetal position.
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Howard Clerk
23:52
Oh my God, I just, you know, I had to get there, I just had to get there. And when I got there the police were putting up the yellow tape, you know the police line tape, I went right through it like I was the winner of a running race, I just broke right through it.
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Scott Weinberger
24:07
Howard ran towards the police line to where Steve and the police cars were positioned. But that is not where Lisa's body was.
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Howard Clerk
24:14
When the first police officer got there, he put the police line tape on the south side of the road and the body was on the north side.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
24:23
When Matthew showed up, he had seen the same thing that Howard saw but unlike Howard, he didn't run towards the police tape and police cars and lights, he ran in the other direction towards Lisa's body.
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Howard Clerk
24:38
Matthew jumped out of the car and started running across country to where the body was and Steve said, "back, come here! Come here!" and Matthew kept saying, "is she over here? Is she over here Steve?" and Steve said get over here. And finally he ran over and he grabbed him and he got him to the ground.
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Scott Weinberger
24:54
How did Matthew know the very spot where her body was? If nobody including police ever pointed it out?
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Howard Clerk
25:02
There was no lights, nothing indicating where Lisa's body was.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
25:06
While they may have always had Matthew still in the mix in their minds. He wasn't there when Steve found Lisa's body. So, why is it that he made a beeline straight for her body rather than the police tape? Like Howard? Sometimes it isn't what someone says, but rather what they do.
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Howard Clerk
25:25
That same night, the police actually from
Long Island
drove those garbage bags all the way down to the
FBI
lab in Washington.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
25:36
So, now police actually had Lisa's body. So, going to the autopsy, they determined her cause of death, Lisa had been
Strangled
. This is no longer a missing persons case, now this officially a
Homicide
.
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Howard Clerk
25:49
Then of course the police took Steve and and Carl Heiden Wright with them to the station house to do the questioning. The police took his shoes at night, they took his clothes and took his jacket so they could get the various fabrics and fibers and so on.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
26:05
And being that Steve found the body that is going to be an obvious place to start with taking shoes and clothing to see a footprints around Lisa's body are going to match back to Steve or if just maybe it's going to give them a clue, to our killer.
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Speaker 1
26:18
You know, while the
FBI
lab in quantico
Virginia
was processing those pieces of evidence. Police went back and reviewed all of the witness interviews including Matthew Solomon himself, when they went back to look at that initial interview that they did with him. Now that he may be a person of interest, they wanted to see if any inconsistencies can be found. And while they were looking for any inconsistencies, they noticed something that was off.
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Howard Clerk
26:44
Way back in the early stages. He kind of had a feeling about Matthew, because the way Matthew was saying things. You know, like "she was very pretty", "she was beautiful", "that she's missing." She is beautiful. "She was a good wife." Well she is a good wife, you know and all that stuff.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
27:05
So, now you have what he did which is going right for the body that he shouldn't have known where it was to now talking about her in the past tense with the word "was" it isn't always the obvious things that police and prosecutors are looking for.
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27:20
It is these small things that might be innocuous and it might be innocent. But the more and more you have things piling on top of one another. Now that starts to become potential evidence of a crime and of who the culprit is and that's exactly what they started to think here.
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Scott Weinberger
27:35
Investigators had a fresh
Crime Scene
. Everything surrounded the body including the garbage bags that contained the body would be tested for forensic evidence. Where there any footprints leading up to or from the body? How about tire tracks? All of those would have to be considered and investigated.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
27:51
As we said before, she was in a fetal position inside five layers of garbage bags. Those garbage bags were sent to the
FBI
labs and inside those bags, they found something else. Red fibers.
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Scott Weinberger
28:03
So, now investigators are on a mission to match a piece of red fiber. So, the first place they go after getting a warrant is they go to Matthew and Lisa's home, they go to her closets. Does she have a sweater? Is there any clothing? Or how about red carpeting? Anything within the house that could match that red piece of fiber. And as it turns out nothing in the home matched.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
28:25
So, if it's not inside his house, they next move on to his car. So, when we go now to the search of Matthew's car, police do notice something peculiar, something they hadn't noticed before.
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Scott Weinberger
28:47
Matthew Solomon gave investigators permission to search his home and search his vehicle and when they opened the trunk of his car, they noticed a small square section of red carpeting that immediately caught the attention. The reason the
FBI
had already examined the fibers that were collected from the garbage bag that contained Lisa Solomon's body. The
FBI
confirming a short time later that it was a match.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
29:15
And now that they had the match to the fibers found in the garbage bag to Matthew's car. They continue their search and eventually more evidence does turn up. Because when they look at surveillance footage they could obtain locally from a 7 11
Christmas Eve
night, they see Matthew and he's buying garbage bags.
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29:35
Scott reality check here when you see all the dots connecting and pointing at Matthew, the doting husband surprised, not surprised?
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Scott Weinberger
29:44
I mean we've seen cases before where husbands go in front of the TV cameras and they're just diverting attention from them and they do such a good job in the beginning you want to believe them. But you know this is just potentially another case of just that.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
29:58
And that was it is that every sign was pointing to all those cases that you have all seen before, that the husband cries what ends up being crocodile tears but you don't want to be that cynical. I don't want my prosecutor had to lead me to always think the worst of the most obvious because sometimes it just isn't true. But that isn't always the way that it goes. And ultimately that was unfortunately it here and Matthew Solomon was arrested on the morning of January 11th, 1988.
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Howard Clerk
30:27
They picked him up first thing in the morning, he was going into
New York City
on the train, they pulled him over on Laurel Road and the first words out of Matthew's mouth is, "anymore on Rob?" That's the type of guy he was.
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Scott Weinberger
30:40
Matthew Solomon pled not guilty but also made a rather shocking admission to police. He detailed a confession to them in it. He explained that on
Christmas Eve
they fought and he claimed both he and the wife were being physical and he tried to restrain her and he realized that it had gone too far and she was no longer breathing, calling it an accident. But also telling officers that they had arguments in the past and they would always get rough with each other.
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Howard Clerk
31:09
He also said that they had a lot of arguments and fights and I would just hold in a
Chokehold
until she stopped resisting and would be calm. This is the way he stopped her from crying and carrying on and it always worked before. So, something he did time and time again.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
31:27
So, this quote unquote, you know, "blaming the victim defense", had played out in a very high profile case just the year before.
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Howard Clerk
31:36
It was around the same time as the Chamber's Trial and it was so typical, they always try to blame the victim.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
31:42
It was a pretty hot topic at the time and that is because just the year before there had been a big case you may or may not know about it now, which is the Robert Chambers Trial, which basically was this rough sex defense, let's blame the victim that this was consensual sex. He claimed that got rough and then accidentally she died. So, people were very eager to see how it was going to ultimately work out here.
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Howard Clerk
32:04
They tried to blame it on Lisa that she was drunk and she was violent and this that and the next thing a bunch of crap.
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Scott Weinberger
32:12
But at trial the prosecutor called a witness to dispute the claim that Lisa was the aggressor.
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Howard Clerk
32:18
That was the owner of the house, they had an upstairs apartment, in the
Cape Cod
type house, he was down below and he heard the whole thing going on.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
32:27
The landlord could hear the struggle upstairs and could make out the sounds of Lisa trying to get away from Solomon as he pursued her.
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Howard Clerk
32:35
He heard the screaming and the yelling and he heard Lisa makes a run for it and he heard the big thump as he slammed her head against the wall.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
32:43
You don't always need to see something to understand it and think about in your own house sometimes, you know that if if you live in an apartment, the way that someone knocks versus something falls, if you live in a house and there's something above you, we start to understand sounds and this landlord knew his house and an accident, it was not.
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Scott Weinberger
33:02
And the ear witness being the landlord was able to say that he heard Lisa crying and heard her husband screaming.
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33:09
So, that kind of gives you a sense of who probably was the aggressor.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
33:13
And the prosecution clearly had their own ideas about what had actually happened that night and those ideas lined up with the landlords testimony.
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Howard Clerk
33:22
Lisa wanted to go to midnight Mass with my sister. I guess obviously he didn't want her to go to midnight Mass and the argument started, he threw her down on the couch, she was crying, he was screaming, she said, "I'm leaving", and she made a burst through the door. He caught her, slammed her head against the wall, stunned her and then put her into a military
Chokehold
and
Murdered
her at that point.
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Scott Weinberger
33:51
During Matthew Solomon's confession to police, he laid out the gruesome details on how he killed his wife. And while you know that Anna-Sigga and I never really want to give a killer a voice in this podcast. I do want to read you a quote from his confession that struck me and it comes directly from his transcript.
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34:09
I put Lisa in the first bag and twist, tied it close and then I put the first bag in the second bag and then tied that close. I did the same thing with the next three bags while she was in the bathtub.
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34:22
I also decided to leave the gold wedding band on her finger after dumping the body of his wife in a field full of garbage bags. Solomon told investigators he drove around for about forty-five minutes and then headed back into town and then he saw a police officer and he asked him a question had he seen his wife, a true Jekyll and Hyde. To a courtroom packed with family members of the victim, the defendant and a lot of media. The jury spent twelve hours deliberating this tragic case and the verdict was guilty of depraved indifference.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
35:02
Depraved indifference in its basic form. It means that someone recklessly engages in conduct, that creates a grave risk of death to another person. And the example we use all the time from Law School to the prosecutor's office when someone fires a loaded gun into a crowd and it hits somebody while they may not be intending to hit the actual person or target, but it is so reckless, so depraved by firing that gun into a crowd of people that that result was more than foreseeable. So, ultimately you're held to the same culpability as if you intentionally meant to cause that death.
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Howard Clerk
35:39
In
New York
, the sentencing range was fifteen to life up to twenty-five to life. He got an eighteen to life.
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Scott Weinberger
35:47
You know, I often look at these cases on whether the verdict is fair, especially when involuntary manslaughter or depraved indifference charges are being considered opposed to murder. If guilty, did the defendant realizes action, an attempt to do the right thing or was it the opposite go out of their way to cover up the crime as it is in this case, publicly plea for the safe return asking hundreds of volunteers to search for her in freezing cold temperatures for more than a week and put the family through incredible amounts of pain, pain that is never gonna go away.
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36:20
Are those legal considerations? No, but they are moral considerations. Humanity considerations, I believe so.
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Howard Clerk
36:29
Usually the judge will read something to the perpetrator. You know, like you did wrong, you did this and the next thing, blah blah. He gave eighteen to life. He got up and he ran out of the courtroom. Never said a word. Now let me tell you something else. When he was in the county lockup twenty-six days after he was arrested, he sent a letter to his sister.
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36:51
I'm not going to read the whole letter. I'm just going to read certain parts. All right now. I'm quoting him, "just like before, I'm on top of the world and I think I'm going to stay here for a while. My lift as you know, is named -", so he's been seeing his girlfriend who's been visiting him in the county lockup.
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37:09
"I can't wait until she gets here. I can't wait to hold her and her to hold me. She's my little girl." You keep saying that my little girl he used to call Lisa, my little girl too. And then he
Murdered
him and then down at the bottom here it says, "it's great. The most important people in my past of my presence are still here with me." It's like Lisa never existed and that's something else.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
37:37
You know, there is something about this when I think about it, you know here he had taken his wife's life, this woman who all she wanted was to be a wife and a mother and after dying literally at his hands. He is now in prison, living that life that she so wanted now with his own relationship and he didn't just date.
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Howard Clerk
37:58
He was married twice in prison and he has a daughter.
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Scott Weinberger
38:01
Based on his sentence. Solomon would be eligible for parole in eighteen years which would include time served for good behavior. Each and every time that would come up, Lisa's family felt they were reliving a horror time after time.
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Howard Clerk
38:17
We had our entire family would go to the hearings, I was there, my wife, my sister, the whole bunch of us, we'd all be there and we'd all give our different opinions on things. We'd all talk and and we've been affected by Lisa's murder and so on and we keep going on and on and on.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
38:35
And Howard and his family went to these parole hearings every couple of years for approximately fifteen years. And just think about that anguish while it is never over and
Homicide
having to literally be drawn back into the system to plea for your niece, daughter, loved ones killer to not be released back into the streets that must just dredge this all up over and over again.
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Howard Clerk
39:02
As time went on. Okay. Now you can only have a couple of people here and then finally it ended up, I was the only one that was allowed to be there. If somebody had letters, I couldn't read them unless they were mine or my sister's letters. I mean, they kept making it harder and harder for us.
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Scott Weinberger
39:18
Then after all that time and all of those parole hearings, something changed.
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Howard Clerk
39:25
And his last hearing, his daughter sent a letter stating that her son who was Matthew's grandson is going to be growing up without a grandfather. So, guess what? They released him.
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Scott Weinberger
39:39
And in 2019, Matthew Solomon was granted parole.
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Howard Clerk
39:45
So, that the grandson could have a grandfather and we were just left hanging. I mean, that was it.
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Scott Weinberger
39:52
You know, while every anniversary of a murder victim is a solemn occasion, the most difficult ones appear to be the ones that people all around you are celebrating, gathering with family members in happier times and for the Solomon family, the holiday season hasn't been the same and likely never will be.
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Howard Clerk
40:10
Christmas is a horrible situation for us. It just brings back the horrible memories of all the things that happened.
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Speaker 6
40:20
And despite his grief, Howard was still determined to help others going through similar circumstances.
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Howard Clerk
40:28
Well, I've been with the parents of
Murdered
Children. It's an organization that's for
Homicide
survivors. It's the only organization of its type that is made for
Homicide
survivors and run by
Homicide
survivors. And I was with POMC for thirty-two years. I was the president for eight years.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
40:48
You know, Scott when I think about programs like this and coincidentally this is a program that I support and donate to each year because. I'm always looking for programs like this that are for survivors by survivors that actually impact and help those that are left in the wake of
Homicide
because for them, the pain never ends.
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Scott Weinberger
41:10
You know, on AOM, the focus is always with the victims and the victims families and how to help them cope, how to help them through these situations is really the job of law enforcement prosecutors and all of us to really lend a helping hand when we can.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
41:26
In thinking about Lisa Solomon. It really struck me as Howard spoke about. All his niece ever wanted was to be a wife and a mom and it was the man who was in her mind going to provide her with that, is the one who ultimately ended her life so many years before her time.
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Howard Clerk
41:46
I just want people to remember who she was. Just this all American girl like I said, the cheerleader person who just wanted to be an American housewife with a family and she was just
Murdered
and thrown into a field like a pile of garbage.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
42:01
I'd rather think of her as this young girl doing gymnastics and back bends with her uncle and surrounded by so many people that loved her. And for Lisa Solomon those memories, her memories will continue to shine right through her family and now also through all of you.
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Speaker 6
42:29
Tune in next week. For another new episode of "Anatomy of Murder."
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Scott Weinberger
42:34
"Anatomy of Murder" is an Audiochuck Original, produced and created by Weinberger Media and fo 1st Ct Media, Ashley Flowers and submit. David our Executive Producers.
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Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi
42:45
This episode was researched and produced by Matt Hall. So, what do you think chuck do you approve?
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