Tonawanda News

December 29, 2012

No. 2: NT sees first homicide in almost 10 years

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda was shocked by the city's first homicide in almost 10 years in November, when a 34-year-old woman was found dead in her Lincoln Avenue home.

A neighbor of Heather Rylowicz alerted police Nov. 22 when she noticed mail piling up on Rylowicz's front porch at 201 Lincoln Ave.

Police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and found Rylowicz dead and her car missing from her driveway. A subsequent autopsy determined she died from blunt- and sharp-force trauma to her head and neck. 

Police Chief Randy Szukala labeled the victim's boyfriend, 32-year-old Brian Lowry, of Michigan, as a person of interest. Just days later, authorities located him in Buffalo and Lowry agreed to come to the station for questioning.

Szukala said Lowry then admitted his "involvement" in Rylowicz's death, but the chief stopped short of calling the admittance a confession.

Lowry was then charged with second-degree murder, but police continued to hold back details on the case, including what weapons were used, to preserve the investigation until the case goes to trial.

Days later, Lowry appeared in North Tonawanda City Court, where he waived his right to a felony hearing with the assistance of assistant public defender James A. Rizzo.

Lowry's case has now moved to Niagara County Court for pretrial proceedings.

Police also located Rylowicz's car, a green 2008 Ford Taurus station wagon. The vehicle was being held by state police after an unknown driver was arrested for DWI, but police don't believe the individual is connected to the case — although he likely knew the suspect.

Szukala said more charges are likely once prosecutors sort through evidence and determine what other criminal offenses may have occurred.

Lowry's online profile shows the pair began dating in July, and that Lowry attended high school in Ypsilanti, Mich, while Rylowciz's profile shows her as a 1997 graduate of Brocton High School, south of Dunkirk in Chautauqua County. She listed her employer as Glidden Machine and Tool on Wurlitzer Drive in North Tonawanda.

A Michigan publication reported that Lowry has had a troubled past and was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for relations with a 13-year-old girl in Ypsilanti.

He then lived in a residential treatment center until 2000, when he fled a halfway house and was later convicted of violating his probation. In 2005, he failed to register as a sex offender, local media outlets reported, and served another 90 days in jail.

The Tonawanda News is compiling its annual list of the top 10 stories of the year. Here's a look at the list so far: • 10: NHL lockout threatens season • 9: HSBC sells out to First Niagara • 8: Upscale eateries open in area • 7: Cuomo pledges "billion for Buffalo" • 6: Bills struggle despite landing Williams • 5: Canal Fest closing time controversy • 4: GM adds engine lines, 500 jobs • 3: Little League Drive development deal • 2: NT sees first homicide in 10 years