Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Caracappa.
I am Leah Greenwald, the wife of Israel Greenwald, the young man that you cold heartedly killed for a few thousand dollars. I know I am not alone in my loss and my heart goes out to all the other victim’s here today.
I am here today to let you know what you; two decorated police officers who are supposed to protect us and make us feel secure had done to us, by murdering my husband and father of my daughters.
At 7.30 AM on Monday morning, the 10th of February 1986, I said goodbye to my husband Israel. I was in a hurry to go to school were I was teaching. I had no idea that this was going to be the very last time I would see him again. I had no idea that from that time on our lives as we knew will not exist any more.
My husband Israel Greenwald was a wonderful person. He was a young man only 34 years old when you brutally kidnapped and murdered him. He was my devoted husband, a loving father to our two daughters, a caring son and a brother. He loved us dearly, supported us, and was always there for us.
We were a happy family with our two beautiful and cheerful little daughters. We lived in a nice house on a quiet block surrounded by good friend and neighbors. Our door was always open to everyone.
Israel’s parents were holocaust survivors. His father already lost a wife with 3 children during the war, and Israel’s mother lost a husband. It was their second marriage and Israel was their only son. They loved him dearly, and he in return was the most dedicated and loving son.
Israel had a kind heart, and everyone in the community and beyond new they can count on him in time of need. He was very charitable and would help so many families who were in bad situations. After he disappeared there were poor families in our community whose checks, so vital to their survival, stopped arriving…my husband supported these families in need without even telling us.
Israel was a respected businessman with a very good reputation, who was liked by all that new him. He worked hard, but enjoyed his down time, and loved taking us on various vacations and trips. There was nothing he wouldn’t give to his family, especially his little girls whom he loved with all his heart. Every time he’d come home from his trips, his arms were filled with toys and trinkets. The kids would wait at the door for him and run into his arms with such love and joy.
It is hard for me to describe the horror that I felt when my husband Israel disappeared without a trace. The helplessness, pain, terror and confusion that I went through is something I will never forget. Our life as a family took a 180 degree turn.
My heart was wrenched out of my body, replaced with excruciating pain that was constant. My daughters never had a chance to discover how truly special their father was. They were just 8 and 10 years old, at an age when they had so many questions about life and their adoring father was not there to answer, to help guide them and make them feel secure.
My husband was missing, most certainly dead, and we didn’t even have a death certificate, a grave to go to, for over 19 years.
Not knowing, what happened to my husband, guessing all this years was an additional torture that we will never recover from.
Before he was murdered, I was a young mother all of 31 who worked only 4 hours a day as a school teacher. I loved spending time with my two little girls and watching them grow up and develop. When Israel was with us I had all the time in the world for my daughters. They were bright and eager kids who loved life and always laughed.
That life and their sweet innocence disappeared on that day you murdered him.
I was left to fend for myself and my family. We struggled to survive… I worked and still work endless hours to make ends meet.
What happened to us was like a chain reaction: Husband and a father missing, confusion and chaos, emotional stress, weakness, pain, nightmares, feeling of abandonment, lose of income, hard labor, loss of time, loss of joy, pain, pain, and pain.
There were times when we sat in the dark when we couldn’t pay for our electricity. We ate bread and butter when we had no money for food. We were cold when we did not have any heat. We were forced to take charity from certain organizations in our community which was humiliating since in the past my husband supported these same charities.
I kept on trying so hard to keep my home, and keep my children in the same environment that they grew up in so as not to traumatize them any more. Within a few years we lost our home as well. My daughter Michelle asked me the day we had to leave the only home she ever knew: “What if Abba comes back? How will he find us now?” It was heartbreaking.
We moved to Brooklyn, strangely only 2 blocks from where you hid his body, and we kept on moving, from place to place. Sometimes we moved because it was hard to keep up with the rent, and sometimes because the owner needed the apartment back.
My daughters lost a father at a very fragile age, and they lost a mother too. They came home from school and I wasn’t there for them. I had no time to play with them or even help them with their school work. Their grades declined dramatically for the next few years. They went from being smart straight-A students to barely passing. I wanted to spend more time with my daughters, but I had to pay the bills. My daughters lost their childhood, and I lost out on being the mother I always wanted to be.
We were not a real family anymore. The hardest times were always during the holidays, and on the Jewish Shabbat, and special occasions, when we had to sit at the table, alone, without Israel.
The years went by with pain, struggle and unanswered questions.
I did everything in my power to find my husband to no avail,
My daughters kept on asking for their ABBA and, when he would come home already. They wanted to know why I am not doing enough to find him.
I still remember my daughters sitting by the door every evening for a long time after he disappeared. Waiting and waiting for their father to come home.
I still remember how every weekend when my husband was still with us we all played games together, how we miss those wonderful times.
Israel did not live to see our daughters grow up into beautiful, highly respectable young woman whom he would be so proud of. He wasn’t there to see them graduate high school and college. He didn’t live to walk them down the aisles when they married their wonderful husbands. And, He wasn’t able to meet his adorable grandchildren, whom he would have spoiled the same way he spoiled his girls.
He couldn’t experience all the joys and pains of life, because you took it away from him when you viciously murdered him.
I do so much like to believe that he did experience it all along from above, and that it was only us who missed out on having him throughout our lives.
I do like to believe that he is here with us today, proud of how we survived and happy that finally justice will be served.
The pain is still very strong, but now that Israel is finally resting in peace. I pray and hope that we as a family will be able to start to heal.
Mr. Eppolito and Mr. Carracappa, my hope is that you, and anyone else that was involve in this horrible crime, will be punished to the utmost. You must pay severely for what you had done, for you did not just kill one person, you killed a family.