Favorite Son : Billy Smolinski
Missing since August 24, 2004
Everything is going according to plan for 31-year-old Billy Smolinski. In a seemingly great relationship with an older woman, a first-time homeowner, and surrounded by adoring family and friends, life is good for the 6-ft., 200 lb. young man. Even his recent job loss in the heating and air conditioning business can't break his spirit — plans to renovate his home and part-time work towing cars and mowing lawns keeps Billy on track. Then, what should have been a romantic getaway with girlfriend, Madeleine Gleason, turns sour and the good times come to a crashing halt. Billy finds out Madeleine has been secretly seeing a married man and owner of a school bus company in neighboring Woodbridge. Billy is furious and the two break up.
The following day, Billy visits his sister, Paula Bell, to tell her about the split and that Madeleine Gleason was seeing someone else on the side. Later, unable to calm down, Billy goes to Gleason's house and climbs a ladder up to his ex's bedroom window at 4 AM. He eventually goes home. Hours pass. Still raging, Billy calls his rival and leaves a threatening message on his answering machine, telling him to watch his back. A dated receipt later found in Billy's trashcan proves he then goes out for some fast food and returns home. He leaves his house one more time, to visit a neighbor. According to the neighbor, Billy asks him to look in on his beloved German shepherd, Harley, while he's up north for a few days looking at a car he's interested in buying. Billy Smolinski is never seen again.
When the neighbor goes to check on Harley, the house is locked and Billy's white pickup is still in the driveway. There is no sign of Billy anywhere. Police later find his keys and wallet tucked under the front seat of his truck. Anyone who knows Billy agrees that he would never have left his dog unattended in the house. Equally unusual, he hadn't shared his travel plans with anyone other than his neighbor — not even his sister who he had seen the night before.
The search for Billy and the ensuing investigation prove to be even more complicated than the circumstances prior to his disappearance. Billy's parents become frustrated by the pace of the investigation and hire a private investigator, who files for all police records under the Freedom of Information Act. When sifting through documents, they are astounded to learn a specific tip had been called in to Crime Stoppers in relation to the case. The informant alleged that Billy was strangled to death by Gleason's drug addicted son, a former grave digger, after a dispute. Before police get a chance to question him, Gleason's son dies of a drug overdose.
As the Smolinski's search for Billy becomes desperate, family and friends hang posters everywhere offering a reward. But as quickly as they go up, someone is ripping the posters down and, on occasion, defacing them with the words, "Who cares." Stunned, Billy's sister Paula and her aunt and uncle set out with a camera to try and catch the vandal in action. They are shocked by what they discover. Although she vehemently denies it, they are convinced that the woman caught on camera is none other than Billy's ex, Madeleine Gleason. Soon after, Billy's mother Jan is arrested for trespassing on private property while hanging missing posters.
In 2006, baffled Waterbury police ask the FBI for assistance. Several leads — including one that Smolinski was killed and buried under a driveway in Shelton — turn what was a cold case, into a hot investigation. Following another promising lead, police begin a massive dig on property in the nearby town of Seymour in the hopes of recovering Billy's remains. They also take Billy's pickup truck back into the lab for another forensic search. Law enforcement still hopes to finally deliver the answers to a baffled family and community as to how and why Billy Smolinski disappeared without a trace.
In October 2009, federal legislation known as "Billy's Law" was introduced in Congress to streamline the missing persons databases available to law enforcement. "Billy's Law" is intended to help insure that other families won't experience the delays and frustration that the Smolinski's have gone though in the search for their missing son.