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Friday, October 19, 2012

Heather Kowalczik, Robert Rodriguez, and The Boy Buried in Their Backyard

     In July 2010, Heather Kowalczik and her boyfriend Robert Rodriguez, the father of two of her children, moved from upstate New York to East Farmingdale, Long Island. The couple took up residence in a rented house with 6-year-old Alex, and Robert, Jr., age 9. The pair also came to Long Island with Justin, a 17-month-old boy fathered by another man.

     A Suffolk County Child Protection Services (CPS) agent, pursuant to a routine welfare check, visited Heather on October 3, 2012. During the visit, the CPS worker noticed that Justin, who would now be about three years old, wasn't in the dwelling. When asked where the toddler was, Kowalczik said he was with relatives. When the CPS agent pressed for details, the mother's vagueness led the social worker to suspect foul play. For that reason, she reported her suspicion to the New York State Police.

     Two days after the CPS call, detectives with the state police paid the 29-year-old mother a visit. When the officers insisted that she tell them where to find Justin, Kowalczik told them the boy had died in August 2010 shortly after she moved to East Farmingdale. She said her 30-year-old boyfriend, Robert Rodriguez, had buried the child in the backyard next to the back fence line. The mother said she had not reported Justin's death because she feared retaliation from Rodriguez. Later, to a reporter with the New York Post, Kowalczik said, "He [Rodriguez] was pretty much keeping watch of me. He hit me in the head, smacked me in the face if I'd say anything."

     On October 6, the police recovered Justin's remains. The boy had been buried in a three-foot grave. The police searched the Kowalczik/Rodriguez house, seizing, among other things, a shovel, a post-hole digger, a video camera, and a photograph album. CPS workers had already taken custody of Alex and Robert, Jr.

     The Suffolk County Medical Examiner's Office has not released information regarding the cause and manner of Justin's death. Because the child's remains have been severely altered by the passage of time, the forensic pathologist didn't have much of a corpse to work with. Perhaps the postmortem examination will determine if the child had died a natural death, or had been killed.

     On October 9, the owner of the East Farmingdale house evicted Kowalczik and Rodriguez. Robert Rodriguez has retained a lawyer, and is not cooperating with the police. While he is considered "a person of interest," no one in this suspicious death case has been charged. Even if Justin wasn't murdered, his mother could be charged with not reporting his death. And if Rodriguez buried the body, he could be charged with abuse of corpse. 


  1. Thank you for sharing. Certainly one of the most emotionally charged aspects of your divorce concerns your child or children. Tragically, children all too often get caught in the cross-fire of divorcing parents, when what should be ultimately important to everyone concerned is the welfare of the child.

    - child support attorney Nassau county, NY

  2. Any arrests in this case?

  3. why is it that almost 4 years after the fact no arrest have been made. where is the justice for justin?

  4. Why is the mother still out on Facebook I went to school with her years ago and she's posting on Facebook like this didn't even happen. What's the status on this case?