Astoria man’s body identified, family’s searching concludes – QNS.com

Astoria man’s body identified, family’s searching concludes

By Matthew Monks

On Friday, the day the former Brooklyn College senior's body was exhumed from the potter's field on Hart Island, the family filed a notice of claim in New York City Civil Court charging that the police and medical examiner's office negligently handled the young man's disappearance, said Joseph Belluck, their attorney.”As you can imagine they are very angry and frustrated that it took this long” to identify his body, Belluck said. “The family suffered a great deal during this time period.” They grieved in limbo, constantly checking with police for information. Compounding the tragedy, Guglielmini's father, Calogero, died a few months ago of health complications without ever knowing his son's fate, Belluck said.When asked to describe the ordeal Monday, Lina Guglielmini, Charles' sister, merely said: “It's too emotional. I don't want to talk about it. I thank you.”Her lawyer said a police detective told the family in May 2003 that Charles had been registered as a missing person. “Based upon what we know about the situation it seems clear that an error was made,” Belluck said. The report “was either not filed or it was misfiled.”For more than a year, he said, Lina made regular calls to the police to see if they had found a body. They always answered no. Then, about two weeks ago, she learned that her brother had been found shortly after disappearing and was buried roughly a year ago in the city cemetery, Belluck said. She called the city morgue after reading a report of two dead bodies retrieved in the East River. The morgue told her that Charles was not listed as a missing person in their computer system. She called police, who Belluck said entered him in their database and turned up a match. DNA tests confirmed his identity, the lawyer said. Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman at the medical examiner's office, said she could not comment on the lawsuit but said it was the Police Department's responsibility to handle missing persons reports. She said an unidentified body is usually buried at Hart Island after two weeks unless it is a homicide. A Police Department spokeswoman said that every missing person's case is handled differently and did not comment on the lawsuit.Belluck said the notice of claim does not mention monetary damages. He said the lawsuit aims to establish a system of checks and balances between the police and medical examiner's office to prevent this type of mishap from repeating itself. Two Queens lawmakers are pushing for a law that would do just that.State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) have sponsored a bill that would require police to conduct missing persons investigations regardless of the individual's age. Police do not have to investigate the disappearance of people between 19 and 64 unless foul play is suspected.Their bill was prompted by the plight of a Hollis woman whose 21-year-old son was buried for three years in the potter's field before he was identified. Arnita Fowler, a tech sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, said her son remained unidentifed because of miscommunication between the police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Her crusade to change the way police handle missing persons caught Scarborough and Smith's eye. The lawmakers said their bill would force cops to vigilantly keep track of missing people, saving families such as the Fowler's and Guglielminis from additional heartbreak. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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