Matthew Solomon: How Buying Trash Bags At 7-Eleven Busted The 1987 Newlywed Killer
HUNTINGTON, NY — Suburban Long Island of the 1980s was represented in pop culture at the time by ongoing musical serenades by Billy Joel, the TV sitcom Growing Pains, and later, in Adam Sandler’s retro big screen comedy, The Wedding Singer.
Amid all the high-end Flashdance fashions and tricked-out Trans Ams of Long Island’s well-to-do, though, the Huntington Station neighborhood represented the East Coast blue-collar experience sung so often about (just over the state line) by Bruce Springsteen.
Matthew Solomon, a 24-year-old steelworker with a Magnum, P.I. mustache, and Lisa Weaver, a 23-year-old, high-haired, supposedly hotheaded bank employee fit that latter bill perfectly — or so it seemed.
The couple met in 1983 and got married in October ’87. By all outward appearances, Matthew and Lisa could have been the “Tommy and Gina” characters from Bon Jovi’s smash song “Livin’ On a Prayer” — except that their ultimate number would be titled, “Dyin’ on Christmas Eve.”
On December 24, 1987, the newlyweds celebrated with a lobster-and-champagne dinner, followed by a round of lovemaking. Afterward, Solomon fell into a deep sleep from which, allegedly, Weaver angrily awoke him at 11 P.M., upset that he would just snooze through their first Christmas Eve as husband and wife.
Solomon said he argued back, and Weaver responded by going for a walk to calm down — clad only in a T-shirt and underpants on a night when temperatures dipped into the 20s. Five hours later, Solomon called police, panicking about Weaver not having come back home.
For the next week, Solomon appeared in the media, tearfully pleading for his wife’s return or any information, even blubbering, “I know she’s alive. I can’t give up hope. I’ll find her. I promised her mother I would.”
Family members, a motorcycle gang, psychics, and other volunteers tore up Long Island searching for Weaver. They found her body on New Year’s Eve, wrapped in five black garbage bags and tossed in an area where residents frequently discarded raked-up leaves. Solomon reportedly passed out on the scene, presumably due to realizing that his bride was dead.
Attention turned to a mysterious man named “Rob” who had been repeatedly calling Weaver at work. Investigators thought perhaps he was a stalker or a secret lover. He turned out to be red herring, which became apparent when police realized that Solomon had perhaps too accurately directed them to where Weaver actually turned up.
On January 12, 1988, Solomon talked to a reporter from Newsday, denying any involvement in Weaver’s demise. A few hours later, cops picked up Solomon, and he confessed in writing and on video to fatally strangling his wife.
Naturally, the confession came up at Solomon’s trial. By then, though, the defense team claimed the killing was an accident that occurred as a result of Solomon “hugging”Weaver too hard. In his arrest statement, Solomon said:
“I had her in my arms. She bit me on my right bicep. I pulled away. She was under my left arm and we fell on the floor. I put my right arm around her neck … she said she hated me … I asked her to please calm down as I squeezed her. A few minutes later she was quiet.”
Afterward, Solomon said he “panicked” and got rid of his wife’s body in a haze of fear and confusion.
In addition to using forensics to link twist ties used to wrap up Weaver’s corpse to the trunk of Solomon’s car, a 7-Eleven store surveillance tape really seemed to sink his case.
On the video, Solomon is seen calmly and even gingerly purchasing the black garbage bags he used to pack up his dead wife and cart her off to a frozen field. That footage, particularly when contrasted with Solomon’s on-camera fakery swearing he’d find Weaver alive, just proved too chilling.
On November 18, 1988, the jury found Matthew Solomon guilty of second-degree murder and depraved indifference.
In keeping with the cultural atmosphere of the time and place, Jack Solomon, Matthew’s father, jumped up in the courtroom and yelled at Diane Weaver, Lisa’s mother, “You got your pound of flesh!”
Outside, Howard Klerk, Lisa’s uncle, told reporters, “We didn’t win anything. We don’t have Lisa back. We lost. We don’t have our girl.”
Since then, Matthew has been serving a sentence of 18 years to life, first at Sing Sing and later at the Otisville Correctional Facility. He has been denied parole six times.
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