Stowik case makes ‘Cold Case’ cards, but chief says it’s not a cold case

Stowik case makes ‘Cold Case’ cards, but chief says it’s not a cold case

The cold case card featuring Stanley Stowik.

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland police have included Stanley “Stosh” Stowik Sr. in the state’s new cold case playing card deck, but Chief John Desmarais insists this case hasn’t gone cold.

Desmarais said Cumberland police officials were approached by counterparts in Pawtucket about submissions for the deck, and they decided to include the case of Stowik, an 80-year-old Monastery Heights man who was killed in his home three years ago.

Asked whether Stowik’s inclusion means local police are no longer convinced they’re pursuing the right person of interest in the case, Desmarais said that is “absolutely not” the case. He said they’re still focusing on the same former neighbor of Stowik. Police remain intent on bringing charges against the man.

“I think we have enough evidence to move forward,” he said.

The cold case cards are not just for traditional cold cases, added Desmarais.

“Those cards are to prompt people to come forward who have information,” he told The Breeze. If it makes someone see something “that kind of makes them remember things,” he said, “that’s what we’re looking for.”

No new information will hurt the existing case being built, he emphasized. He insisted that Stowik’s name was not included because police need new leads, but that police are welcoming any additional information. The playing cards will hopefully prompt people who may have information, but have held onto it for years, to decide that now is the time to produce it, he said.

The initial phase of the playing cards features 52 cases selected according to their “potential for the highest impact and best suitability standards,” according to an announcement. They will be used in prisons.

Stanley Stowik’s nephew, Cumberland Highway Supt. Frank Stowik, said this week that the family remains unhappy with the way the investigation has been handled at points, but is hopeful that this new initiative will bring results. Frank Stowik was the one who found his uncle after he’d been murdered.

Family members previously suggested that police botched aspects of the investigation, comments backed by one first responder in comments to The Breeze. Desmarais has denied those suggestions.

A lifelong Cumberland resident, the retired town employee and U.S. Navy veteran Stowik was killed on Oct. 10, 2015, in his home on Indiana Avenue. He lived alone, and a family member discovered his body.

Desmarais told The Breeze at the start of 2018 that local investigators had been working closely with the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the Rhode Island State Police and FBI. The case is “very active” right now, he said then, and he expected prosecution of a suspect to “move forward very soon.”

“We’re putting a package together, and we’re going to move forward,” he said for last year’s story.

The chief this week said again that police are close to sending the case out for an indictment, a statement he has made several times over the past three years. He said the goal is to make sure the evidence is “systematically presented in such a way that we’re hoping to get a conviction out of it.”

Stowik, who is featured as the two of hearts in the cold case deck, “was violently attacked and killed in his home in Cumberland, R.I.,” states the card. “He was last seen alive at the American Legion Post #14 earlier that evening. Stanley was a Navy veteran and was physically disabled.”

Police have said all along that they believe they know who killed Stowik, but have said the threshold for proving who did it is high.

Officials have declined to say how Stowik died, reiterating only the medical examiner’s statement that he died of “homicidal violence.”

Police have said several times that they don’t believe Stowik’s killer poses a danger to the public, and that the resident was specifically targeted.

Police last year said a man who lived next door to Stowik, convicted felon William Donnelly, had moved to the Mendon Road area. Two years ago, Desmarais described Donnelly as a “person of interest.” Police have never indicated that anyone else is a person of interest in the case.

Desmarais said last week that police were in talks with former Attorney Gen. Peter Kilmartin about bringing charges in the case, and will be talking to new Attorney Gen. Peter Neronha about it.

Police arrested Donnelly about a month after Stowik’s murder, charging him with a neighborhood break-in that happened just before the killing. Charges against Donnelly were later dismissed due to a lack of evidence. The victims of the break-in reported a stolen gun, but that case still hasn’t been solved.

Donnelly was convicted in 1982 of the murder of Hyung U. Kim, 37, his supervisor at Surgical Supply in Providence. He was accused of killing him with a small-caliber handgun by shooting him in the abdomen after Kim refused to co-sign a loan for him. Donnelly was supposed to serve 18 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions but was released in 1988 when it was learned that defense attorneys hadn’t been advised of a psychiatric report raising questions about his mental competency. He was released when a psychiatrist later found him to be rehabilitated.

In 1993, Donnelly was found guilty of twice embezzling $1,700 from a Smithfield gas station where he worked.

In 2015, after the Stowik murder, he was arrested on charges of making a fraudulent purchase with a credit card totaling more than $250 at the Lowe’s store in North Attleboro, Mass.