(CENTRAL ISLIP, LONG ISLAND)—The young father who's refused to talk to police about the disappearance of his girlfriend's toddler son--or the backyard grave that revealed human remains over the weekend--turned up in Family Court Tuesday, for a status hearing on his two, older sons.
Robert Rodriguez, an appliance salesman who had been working at P. C. Richards in Greenvale, was stone-faced and silent, as PIX 11 peppered him with questions about how and why 17-month old Justin Kowalzcik, his girlfriend's youngest son, vanished.
When child welfare officials went to check on the family last week, they became concerned, after hearing reports there was supposed to be a third child in the household. Heather Kowalzcik revealed certain information. Over the weekend, detectives discovered the shallow grave in the backyard, where the remains of a small child were found.
The couple used to live in Orange County, New York, and investigators believe the child died--and was buried--about the time the family moved to Farmingdale.
The owner of the Farmingdale house--Luigi Lancia--is enraged the toddler was apparently buried in his backyard.
Rodriguez was paying him $1500 a month to rent part of the home.
"If he puts his step on the sidewalk, I'll f----ing kill him," Lancia shouted to reporters on Tuesday. "You know what bothers me right now? Why is he not in jail?"
Rodriguez's attorney, Byron Divins, Jr., asked people to reserve judgement.
He pointed out Rodriguez showed up in Family Court Tuesday, forced to hire bodyguards because of death threats he's received.
The Suffolk County Medical Examiner is trying to determine a cause of death for the child. Meantime, child welfare authorities retain custody of the two oldest boys. They formally filed 3 abuse charges against both parents in Family Court Tuesday.