The Rockland County Legislature is fully backing the family of 16-year-old murder victim Paula Bohovesky as one of her convicted killers is set to be released from state prison this month. In keeping with the wishes of the family, the Legislature voted unanimously Tuesday to demand that the paroled killer be required to stay away from Rockland. The Legislature has passed resolutions in support of Paula’s family as they fought parole for the teen’s killers in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
In a resolution adopted Tuesday, the Legislature called upon the New York state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to impose strict conditions that would keep convicted felon Richard LaBarbera far from Paul’s family, require him to report to authorities at a distant state office, and bar him from traveling within a three-county radius of Rockland. Rockland County Legislator John McGowan, who represents part of Pearl River, spoke about the continuing impact of the crime during the meeting. “While people in town and throughout the county may have moved on and the grim horror of this senseless and tragic murder may have faded in people’s memories, one person in particular still lives with this tragedy everyday: Paula’s mother, Mrs. Bohovesky,” Legislator McGowan said.
“Mrs. Bohovesky still lives in Pearl River. She does her shopping there, runs errands, and is still a part of the community. Mrs. Bohovesky, as well as the rest of the Bohovesky family, have endured enough during the past 40 years…I implore the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to do the right thing: Do not let this convicted murderer back into Rockland. I believe I speak for all my constituents when I say, the farther away the better. May Paula continue to rest in peace, and may her family not suffer any more because our state failed to do what’s right.”
Paula was a junior at Pearl River High School when she was attacked on Oct. 28, 1980. She left the Pearl River Library, where she worked after school, and was walking the two blocks to her home when she encountered LaBarbera and Robert McCain. McCain, a drifter and career criminal from Arkansas, and LaBarbera, formerly of Pearl River and on parole for a drug-selling conviction, had spent the day drinking alcohol at a local bar, leaving after seeing Paula through the window, according to published reports. She was brutally attacked and killed.
Both men were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison, the toughest sentence at the time. LaBarbera was deemed eligible for parole in 2019 and released but was remanded after violating the conditions of his parole by getting drunk. The New York state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website shows he is eligible for release as of July 24. McCain was denied parole in June 2019 and is eligible for another hearing in June 2021. Both killers had been denied early release since becoming eligible for parole in 2005. Paula’s family has had to fight their parole efforts every two years for the past 15 years. Paula was an artist and aspiring actress and is still remembered by her many friends, in addition to her mother and brother. Her mother Lois continues to live in Pearl River.