Roanoke Times Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: SUNDAY, August 15, 1993 TAG: 9308150065 SECTION: VIRGINIA PAGE: C-7 EDITION: METRO SOURCE: NOEL K. WILSON ASSOCIATED PRESS DATELINE: VIENNA LENGTH: Long
A Virginia man attempted suicide after he was questioned by police. A missing West Virginia man then was tied to the case. Most recently, the victim's former in-laws apparently completed a suicide pact in Florida.
Two months after the killing, police have quit talking. Family members won't talk, either.
No charges have been filed. No suspects have been named.
When he died, Kowalczyk, 38, was emerging from a bitter divorce and custody battle for his two children and from financial problems that forced his business into bankruptcy and left him more than $700,000 in debt.
"Kowalczyk obviously had a number of enemies; from Day One, he had a number of enemies," said Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., who is overseeing the police investigation.
On June 10, Kowalczyk had just returned from taking his 12-year-old son, Nicholas, to soccer practice and was waiting for his ex-wife to get the boy. Kowalczyk was due in court the next day to press for more visitation rights with his two sons.
In the few moments it took for Nicholas to leave their truck to throw away some trash, a single shot rang out in the parking lot. The boy saw his father slump in his seat but did not see the gunman.
Katherine Kowalczyk arrived to find her son running in circles and screaming.
It was the beginning of a case that would involve authorities in three states and bring years of bitter personal battles and crushing financial losses to light.
Katherine Kowalczyk, who had been overheard telling her ex-husband, "I will see you bankrupted or dead," denied involvement and passed a privately administered lie detector test, said her attorney, J. Frederick Sinclair.
James Zumwalt, ex-husband of the woman John Kowalczyk had planned to marry in July, also passed a private lie detector test, said Zumwalt's attorney, Steven Merrill.
Katherine Kowalczyk's parents, Stanley and Jacqueline Hyman, had spent $160,000 on their daughter's contentious divorce. John Kowalczyk had said he feared Stanley Hyman would kill him, according to divorce papers unsealed after his murder.
Zumwalt attempted suicide June 19 after being interviewed by police. He said he took an overdose of sleeping pills because he thought he was the main suspect and was humiliating his father, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., the former chief of naval operations.
Police have cleared James Zumwalt as a suspect.
The Hymans also denied involvement. On Aug. 4, they were found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide at their posh Florida condominium.
Notes left behind indicated that Stanley Hyman, 70, and Jacqueline Hyman, 63, believed they would be cleared of involvement in Kowalczyk's death, investigators said.
Laurie Ross, Stanley Hyman's assistant at Identity Research Institute, said the apparent murder-suicide was particularly troubling because Hyman's seminar business helped people make the difficult transition from military to civilian life.
"He spent so much time trying to prevent this sort of thing in other people," she said. "He was so worried about people who took his class who were susceptible to depression."
Ross said the Kowalczyk divorce "tore the Hymans apart. They loved him. They were so happy that Kathy had a fine husband and two beautiful boys."
The Hymans were tied to the Kowalczyk killing in two other ways.
Police announced two weeks after the murder that the weapon used to kill Kowalczyk was a rare, single-shot handgun with interchangeable barrels that can fire rifle ammunition.
Police seized the same kind of gun, a Thompson Center/Contender, from the Hymans' McLean home June 24. Investigators said Jacqueline Hyman had purchased the gun at a store in Clearwater, Fla., on June 1.
West Virginia police notified Vienna police about a missing man, James Alting, who worked at the Coolfont Resort in Berkeley Springs. Police linked him to the Kowalczyk murder because Alting, 38, disappeared the same weekend that Stanley Hyman reported being attacked by a man at Coolfont who matched Alting's description.
Vienna police searched Alting's bedroom and found a scrap of paper with Stanley Hyman's name and phone number, and a matchbook from a motel near the scene of the Kowalczyk murder.
Police suspect foul play in Alting's disappearance because he left behind his daily seizure medication, his car and personal belongings.
West Virginia police then announced that a man, not identified, had come forward after hearing about Alting's disappearance. He told police that he had been approached about killing Kowalczyk but turned down the job.
Another Coolfont worker, Ralph Shambaugh, told police he had talked to Stanley Hyman about guns. Hyman was a retired Air Force colonel and gun enthusiast who had a firing range in the basement of his home.
Shambaugh denied any link to the Kowalczyk murder. Shambaugh has been charged with malicious wounding in an unrelated case. Police said that alleged attack is similar to the one Stanley Hyman described.