Two years like clockwork the two men who murdered 16-year-old Paula Bohovesky 31 years ago will soon sit before a parole board panel and ask for their freedom.
And what has becomes an annual rite every two years since their first parole hearings in 2005, the teenager’s family, residents, police and prosecutors will urge the parole panel to keep the two men in prison — hopefully for the rest of their lives.
On Oct. 28, 1980, Paula Bohovesky walked down Main Street in Pearl River on her way home from her part-time job at the library. She was attacked and killed, separately, by Richard LaBarbera and Robert McCain. Bohovesky, an aspiring actress, musician and artist, was two blocks from home.
Both LaBarbera and McCain had spent the day drinking at the High Wheeler bar on Main Street.
McCain, a drifter and career criminal, saw the high school junior with long blonde hair walk by. He left the bar and struck her in the head with a chunk of pavement outside a vacant house on North Main Street. She stumbled down the alley, where McCain had pulled her and then supposedly sexually abused her.
LaBarbera, a local resident, watched and thinking the teenager was dead, tried sodomizing her. When she stirred, LaBarbera stabbed her multiple times with a knife, leaving five large stab wounds to her upper body. She was found in a pool of blood with her dungarees pulled down around her ankles.
Both men denied killing her — and continue during parole hearings — but were convicted of second-degree murder and sentence to 25 years to life in prison. Both men have been denied parole every two years since 2005.
They come up for parole for a fourth time in May and June.
Lois Bohovesky, a puppeteer whose works with children, has diligently opposed their release, along with her son. Her husband died in recent years. Local residents have joined Bohovesky to lobby every two years.
Legislator John Murphy, R-Pearl River, started a website called “Petition for Paula Committee” that raises money and awareness for the anti-parole effort. His daughter Jennifer, now 47, went to school with Paula Bohovesky.
“The driving purpose is to rally everyone into telling the New York State Parole Board to never release these convicts who remain unrepentant,” Murphy wrote. “The other purpose is to keep Paula’s memory alive. Pearl River High School theater students sustain a modest scholarship fund on their own.”
Murphy said the purpose is to “create a little corner of the school property in Paula’s memory where all students, but mostly those who hear the call of the arts as Paula did, can find quiet to meditate and reflect. Lois’ life now revolves around performing art as the central figure in the Vagabond Puppets.”
To oppose parole for LaBarbera and McCain, go to Petition for Paula