William Lewek in 2016 told parole officials that he “prayed over” and “blessed” the body of Matthew Straton before burying the corpse in Lewek’s backyard, records show.
Democrat & Chronicle
William Lewek claimed he ‘blessed’ the body of Matthew Straton before burying corpse
By Gary Craig
January 24, 2018
“I didn’t call 911,” Lewek said at a parole hearing. “I got scared and terrified, was trying to protect myself, I guess, and him.”
Lewek, who pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in Straton’s death, said Straton died of a heroin overdose, and the needle was still in his arm when he found him. Lewek said that he and Straton had been doing cocaine together at Lewek’s home during an October 2013 day, and Lewek did not know that Straton used heroin.
After the death, Lewek buried Straton under debris and dirt behind Lewek’s city home. The body was not discovered until January 2014. Lewek had been a psychiatrist for more than three decades at the time of his arrest.
“I was a coward,” Lewek told the parole board. “I didn’t face the publicity of the relationship, the publicity of the drug use, the publicity of what was going on.
“How could you have somebody in your backyard and … act like it isn’t there?”
In 2016, Lewek was denied parole, then released last year under what is known as “conditional release,” a designated sentence length that did not require another parole hearing. Lewek was released in December, but has since been accused of parole violations and is jailed, awaiting a hearing later this month.
While Lewek spoke at his 2015 sentencing, his parole hearing a year later provides the most expansive details about what he claims happened with Straton’s death and his decision to bury the corpse. He claimed he was struggling in 2014 because his mother was dying and he’d had a breakup with a longtime partner.
He said Straton died in the third floor of Lewek’s Rowley Street home, and he had to carry the body to the backyard. He said he first spent 45 minutes trying to revive him.
“I got him downstairs and I prayed over him and I blessed him,” Lewek said. “… I put him under a lilac tree and covered him up and thought I’d call the police later.”
Instead, he said, he had patients to see “and then I just acted like it never happened.”
Authorities claimed that Lewek also planted flowers near where he buried Straton.
Straton’s mother, Kym Straton, said Tuesday that she also this week received the parole transcripts from parole officials. (The Democrat and Chronicle received the transcripts through a Freedom of Information Law request.)
Straton said she is not inclined to believe what Lewek told the parole board.
“Honestly, when it comes down to anything that that man has to say, I can’t believe a word of it,” she said.
Still, she said, she does wonder about the final hours of her son’s life.
“There are so many unanswered questions that I will probably never have answers to.”
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