Residents to Honor Slain Student Paula Bohovesky
BY ROBERT KNIGHT
ROCKLAND COUNTY TIMES
Hundreds and possibly thousands of Pearl River and Orangetown residents are expected to take part in a mass “Freeze Mob” in downtown Pearl River Saturday, to both honor the memory of slain local high school student Paula Bohovesky, and to help prevent the possible parole of one of her killers from prison.
The event is being planned by a coalition of individuals and organizations long associated with the Bohovesky murder and the resultant incarceration of her two killers following the tragic event that occurred the evening of Oct. 28, 1980.
One of those is a former classmate of the 16-year-old student, Dari Knight, who now lives in Alabama, and is coordinating the effort via e-mail, telephone and various other means to get the word out as far and wide as possible during the last few days before the scheduled event.
She describes a freeze mob as an event in which a large mass of people appears to be strolling by a pre-specified location aimlessly when music is suddenly played, and the entire crowd freezes in place instantly for two minutes. When the music concludes, the people continue on their way, as if nothing had happened.
The event will be extensively documented by both film and videotape, the former for eventual production into a short movie and the latter for instant streaming on various media such as youtube and similar web sites. Local, regional and national media have also been alerted to the event, with the hope and expectation that more print, radio and television coverage will be generated.
Knight (no relation to this author) is extending an invitation to all residents of Pearl River and Orangetown and the surrounding area who would like to help honor Paula’s memory, and help keep her murderer in prison, to participate in this one-of-a-kind event.
It is scheduled to occur at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, in and around Braunsdorf Memorial Park in downtown Pearl River. All that is required, and being requested, is that participants stroll by or through the park at that precise time, and freeze in place when they hear the music start. After two minutes the music will stop, participants are asked to continue on their way, and the event is considered over.
Braunsdorf Park is a Town of Orangetown public park located at the intersection of Central Avenue and Main Street in downtown Pearl River. It is bounded on the west by the Pascack Valley Railroad and station, on the south by the Pearl River Post Office and by stores and offices on Main Street and Central Avenue. The Pearl River Police Booth and the hamlet’s memorial flagpole are also located within the oval park.
Two Pearl River High School alumni, John Carson and Ed Walter, are in charge of providing the music. Documentary filmmaker Kyle Mumford and publicist Patricia Stark of Stark Communications are leading the film and videotaping part of the event, and will produce both the uploading to websites and the eventual movie to be shown in theaters and on television.
Several participants will also be asked if they want to be interviewed during or after the Freeze Mob, with that footage to be added to the completed films and videos.
Especially sought, Knight said, are people who knew Paula including friends, family, neighbors and fellow students. Possibly participating, she said, may be Paula’s mother, Lois Bohovesky, who still resides in Pearl River and heads the Hudson Vagabond Puppet theatrical troupe which she founded and in which Paula had worked.
Several public officials are also expected to attend and participate, one of the leaders being Rockland County Legislator John Murphy. Murphy has been active in the petition drive over the past decade aimed at keeping the two convicted killers of Paula Bohovesky locked up for the rest of their lives in state prison.
Paula was a 16-year-old Pearl River High School honor student at the time of her vicious murder in 1980. After school, she worked part-time as a page at the Pearl River Public Library, located on Franklin Avenue, two blocks from the Braunsdorf Park.
Fatal Walk Home
On the evening of Oct. 28, she left the library when it closed at 9 p.m. and was walking home, probably through or near the park. There she was accosted by two local men who had been drinking at a nearby Central Avenue bar, Richard LaBarbara and Robert McCain.
They reportedly dragged Paula a block north on Main Street and behind a tree in the rear yard of a large home at Washington Avenue, where they proceeded to rape, bash and murder her, leaving her body to be found hours later.
They were quickly caught by Orangetown Police, tried in court and convicted of both the rape and the murder, and sentenced to maximum terms of 25 years to life in prison.
Both LaBarbara and McCain first became eligible for parole in 2005, after 25 years in prison, both applied, and both were denied. Under New York State law they are permitted to reapply every two years, for the remainder of their lives.
Both men reapplied in 2007 and 2009, and were similarly denied parole. When they applied again last year, however, their cases were separated for reasons that have not been explained. LaBarbara was again denied, but McCain’s appeal was delayed the parole board will announce a decision on or before Jan. 19.
No one seems to know why McCain’s case has been delayed, and there is apprehension in the community that the board may actually be considering granting him parole.
To help ensure that this doesn’t happen, an informal committee has been formed to gather petitions against parole to send to the Parole Board. Among the leaders of this drive are Murphy and Orangetown Councilman Denis Troy, who have already gathered more than 20,000 signatures on petitions that have been sent to parole officials in Albany.
They also obtained a unanimous resolution last month from the Orangetown Town Board opposing any thought of parole, and that too has been sent to Albany.
This Saturday’s “Freeze Mob” is the latest event in a series of activities being carried out by the volunteer committee.
Murphy stresses that the larger the crowd that shows up and participates in the unusual event, the more impressive it will be to all who view it through a variety of media.
“There will be no speeches, no requests for money,” Murphy says. All the committee is seeking “is just a wee bit of time to remember and reflect.”
It is all part of the effort to keep Paula Bohovesky’s memory alive and vivid in people’s minds, and to keep her two killers in prison forever, Murphy notes.
A “Freeze Mob” is new to Rockland County, but is familiar to those who watch websites sue as youtube. “When the music begins, just ‘freeze’ in place for two minutes and then move on, Murphy says. “It’s sort of a ‘Moment of silence to music’.”
Murphy says any individuals or groups who would like to participate are invited to contact him for more particulars. Those willing to be interviewed about their memories of Paula and/or her murder can also contact him and their names will be placed on a list for the filmmakers.
Those wishing to sign the petition to the Parole Board can also still participate by going to the website www.PetitionforPaula.org, or visit the many merchants in Pearl River who keep copies on their counters.
Murphy says he is hoping several hundred people, and possibly thousands, will show up Saturday afternoon for the unique Freeze Mob, and says all they have to do, at a minimum, is stroll in or around Braunsdorf Memorial Park at 4p.m. sharp. Those wanting to get more involved will be given information on other activities that are on-going in both keeping Paula Bohovesky’s name alive, and her killers in prison.