Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Friends: Man terrorized wife
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
GUILFORD - Patricia Wlasiuk was a brilliant nurse who lived in fear of her husband, Peter Marshall Wlasiuk, her friends said one day after he was charged with murdering her.
She was found in the chilly waters of Guilford Lake early last Wednesday morning and pronounced dead at The Hospital in Sidney at about 1:20 a.m. Patricia Wlasiuk, 35, worked the late shift the night before and had left The Hospital only hours earlier.
Five days later, her husband was charged with murdering her. According to Chenango County Sheriff Thomas J. Loughren, Peter Wlasiuk, 33, "claimed his wife was driving their 1998 one-ton white pickup truck on county Road 35, swerved to miss a deer and proceeded off the roadway into Guilford Lake."
A fire official said Peter Wlasiuk was at the accident scene, and an official at The Hospital said he had been treated that day and released.
Police said they were skeptical about his report of the accident. After a five-day investigation, they arrested Wlasiuk at 8 p.m. Monday at his rural home at 633 New Virginia Road, Oxford. Chenango County Detective Sgt. James Lloyd said Wlasiuk surrendered peacefully.
He was arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder before Guilford Town Justice Albert Guenzburger and jailed without bail.
Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said Tuesday that Wlasiuk will either have a felony hearing in Guilford Town Court or the case against him will be presented to a Chenango County grand jury this week.
Authorities haven't released results of an autopsy.
Patricia Wlasiuk's funeral was held Sunday afternoon in Sidney. Before the funeral, her friends and co-workers from The Hospital, where she had worked several years, held a memorial service for her, said Patricia Grant, a registered nurse.
"There were probably a hundred employees here," she said.
"Patty was an incredible person," said Grant. "There wasn't anyone who ever worked with her who didn't like her.
"She was loved not just by co-workers, but by the doctors, the Sidney police. Everyone who came across her path loved her and she touched many, many lives," Grant said. She knew Wlasiuk well, she said.
"I talked with her, partied with her, laughed with her, cried with her," Grant said. "She was an incredible nurse, a brilliant nurse. If you came into the hospital with something seriously wrong with you, she's the nurse you would have wanted to take care of you."
But Wlasiuk told her chilling stories about life with her husband, said Grant, a potential witness in this case.
Another close friend, registered nurse Patricia Howard, said that she, Grant and others urged Wlasiuk to seek help.
They collected the telephone numbers of organizations that help women in abusive situations, "but Patty wouldn't take the numbers," said Howard, Wlasiuk's supervisor at The Hospital. "And then they wanted to give her name to these agencies, and I'm the one who said 'we can't do that, because she's got to be the one to reach out for help. We're here for her, but we can't do it for her."'
But Wlasiuk, a mother of three, stepmother of one, needed help, she said.
"What she told us was that he threatened to kill her if she tried to leave with his daughters. And she was afraid, she believed him, that he would," Howard said.
"He also told her that he would get custody of the kids," said Howard. "She believed that he would take custody away from her and the kids would be with him, that she'd lose her children.
"And plus, there was the threat that he'd hurt her if she tried to take them," said Howard.
The family tension had been going on a long time, she said.
"I personally said to her on more than one occasion: 'Patty, there are people here who care about you and will help you,' and she knew, but she was too afraid to do anything about it," Howard said.
Roberta Dunker of Franklin, a Teamsters Union representative for the registered nurses, said Wlasiuk's domestic troubles were well-known in a close-knit circle.
"Let me put it this way," she said. "Everyone at The Hospital knows the same story. Everyone told the police the same story immediately. There's only one person at The Hospital who didn't think he killed his wife, and that's the girlfriend's mother."
Patricia Wlasiuk had a teen-age son from a previous relationship, who lives in Bainbridge, she said. Peter Wlasiuk has a daughter about 8 years old from a previous marriage, and the couple had two younger daughters together, she said.
Patricia Wlasiuk's mother is a nurse at The Hospital, as well, Dunker said.
Joseph McBride said Peter Wlasiuk may retain Chenango County Public Defender Peter McBride to represent him. At mid-day Tuesday, Peter McBride said he had not yet been retained and couldn't discuss the case.
Last August, the Wlasiuks purchased the former Pillars Inn at the junction of county routes 35 and 36 in Guilford. They renamed it the Angel Inn, and according to a town resident, the bar was open for business Tuesday afternoon.
"Oprah was on the TV, a couple of guys came in for white Russians and it seemed like business as usual," he said.
Tom Grace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 547-2431.