Tonawanda News

November 22, 2012

Neighbor IDs Lincoln Ave. homicide victim

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The homicide victim that was found in her North Tonawanda home Wednesday afternoon has been identified as Heather M. Rylowicz, according to a neighbor.

Rylowicz is in her early 30s and lived at 201 Lincoln Ave. for about four years. Police are continuing to release limited information on the case, but Jackie Rogge, Rylowicz's next-door neighbor, provided some details about how the last few days have gone.

Rogge alerted police Tuesday about 1 p.m after she noticed mail and papers piling up on the woman's porch, and hadn't seen her outside for days.

"That just wasn't like her," Rogge said.

Rylowicz's car hadn't been in the driveway for the better part of a week, either.

"I thought maybe there was something wrong, and she had gone to visit her parents," Rogge said. "They live in the Southern Tier." 

But yesterday, Rogge was walking near the side of the victim's home and saw Rylowicz's dog jumping at the window. It wasn't normal for Rylowicz to leave her dog home alone, and Rogge hadn't seen her or her car for days. She knocked on the door, but no one answered.

"Then I knew there was something wrong," she said.

According to Rogge, Rylowicz's boyfriend also lived in the two-story home. Rogge said she hasn't seen him in the neighborhood for several days.

Police Chief Randy Szukala would not comment on whether the victim's boyfriend is a suspect in the case or if they have located him.

"I can't say a word," he said.

However, Rogge said it doesn't seem as if anyone broke in and all the doors were locked from the inside.

"The police had to jimmy the back door's locks in order to get inside," Rogge said.

Szukala did say, however, that an autopsy is scheduled for this morning. It's still not clear how long Weber was in the home before police found her, and Szukala wouldn't comment on how far back Rylowicz's unopened mail went.

"After the autopsy, we should be able to give more detail on cause and how long she was there," he said. 

"We are suspecting homicide," Szukala added. 

Szukala said she had been there for "more than a day" and Rogge said she hasn't seen her for at least several days.

Once police arrived on the scene, they were greeted by the woman's large dog, which prevented their entrance. SPCA workers arrived to control and remove the animal.

Rylowicz's home was cordoned off with crime tape for most of Wednesday and detectives didn't leave the scene until late that night. Thursday, they processed evidence obtained from the scene. 

Although Szukala would not release many details from the crime scene, he did say the body appeared "very unnatural" and the homicide likely occurred within the home.

Detectives are continuing their work to determine who may have had motivations to kill Rylowicz. The case is their first homicide investigation in nearly a decade, according to Szukala.

Rogge, who has lived next to Weber for more than two years, also provided a few personal details about the victim, and said Weber recently got a new job.

"She was quiet and nice, and kept to herself," Rogge said.

This article was revised to reflect the following correction:

The name of a homicide victim in North Tonawanda given to the News by a neighbor was incorrect in Friday's paper. The deceased woman's correct name is Heather M. Rylowicz.