Note: Here’s a portion of an obituary that will appear tomorrow on lohud.com and in The Journal News,
Haverstraw native and retired Journal News reporter Francis “Frank” Leonard died Wednesday at age 78.
Leonard was born in the riverside working-class village Oct. 26, 1932. He graduated from the former Haverstraw High, then joined the Navy in 1955. After receiving an honorable discharge, he earned a journalism degree from Seton Hall University.
He worked as a reporter from 1968 to 1988 in the Rockland newsroom, known for his tenacity and skills at sussing out leads on the police beat.
Leonard used those skills in 1976, when a judge granted a rape suspect youthful offender status, shutting down any press coverage of the case. Leonard figured out that the suspect was also accused of a rape at West Point, where he was a cadet.
Lavell Tyrone McNutt served three years in Leavenworth for both rapes, and has been incarcerated numerous times since. When McNutt was arrested on aggravated assault charges last year in Georgia, Leonard contacted Journal News editors with possible angles.