Police say 800 miles and snowy weather didn’t stop Eric Engel from driving from New Hampshire to Cary and shooting Aleksander Wysocki – the father of a woman Engel dated for years – in his yard Friday morning.
Cary police said Engel, a 43-year-old college lecturer, made the trek with the intent of killing Wysocki, 74, but they won’t say why.
After killing Wysocki, police said, Engel drove to Florida, where he killed himself after he was confronted by local law enforcement Saturday morning.
If Engel were alive, he would be charged with first-degree murder, Cary police Capt. Don Hamilton said. But, he added, “there’s no public record law forcing us to release (the motive). So there’s no reason to cause any more anguish or stress.”
Jowita Wysocka, Wysocki’s daughter and an attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., broke up with Engel last year after their relationship “steadily deteriorated,” she said. Wysocka uses a different spelling of her last name.
Engel wrote about the breakup on the website for Ketchcom Development Inc., a business he and Wysocka worked at together.
“On January 26th, 2013, I celebrated ten years together with Jowita Wysocka. Up to that point, she had been my muse, my friend, and my love,” Engel wrote under a post titled “Valentine’s Day 2013.”
“Sadly, shortly after our ten year anniversary she decided she didn’t love me anymore,” the post says.
Tracked to Florida
After shooting Wysocki, Engel told a member of his family about it, according to police in Florida. That family member alerted authorities that Engel was in Florida, according to James Pogue, a captain with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
Pogue declined to identify the family member or exactly what Engel told that person.
Law enforcement officials later spoke with Engel by phone after tracking him to a room at the Angler’s Resort Motel in Dunnellon, Fla. Dunnellon is about 100 miles north of St. Petersburg.
“It was a very short conversation. He said he would come out. We thought he was gonna get his shoes on and come out, but he didn’t,” Pogue said. “When we heard the shot, we knew what happened.”
Pogue said the sheriff’s office will likely release more information about the crime when it completes its investigation and files a report. That could take another few days, he said.
‘I’m a failure’
Authorities found a flashlight, binoculars, a bandanna, 9 mm clips, two boxes of 9 mm ammo and a 9 mm Glock handgun in Engel’s room, according to Mike Dodd, a detective for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
They also found a Google map from North Carolina to St. Petersburg and a journal, Dodd said.
“There were two pages full of the words ‘I’m a failure,’” he said.
Engel lived in Florida and dated Wysocka while pursuing a doctorate in communications from the University of South Florida.
The University of New Hampshire hired Engel as a lecturer in August. He taught two Intro to Language and Social Interaction classes, as well as Conversation Analysis, a university spokeswoman said.
Engel shared an office with fellow UNH lecturer Joseph Terry. Engel told Terry that he had gone through a bad breakup.
“But he never mentioned her dad,” Terry said.
By the time Cary police were alerted of any conflict, Wysocki was already dead.
“There’s no pulse,” a neighbor told the dispatcher after calling 911 Friday morning. “He’s shot in the head.”
Poland to America
“Lenny” Wysocki, as he was known, was born in Skierniewice, Poland, according to an obituary Wysocka emailed to The News & Observer.
His mother and two older sisters reared him after his father, an officer in the Polish army, died of tuberculosis while in a Nazi POW camp, the obituary says.
Wysocki earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Warsaw Polytechnic and married his high school sweetheart, Danuta, before moving to America in 1968.
He worked for Stone and Webster engineering in Boston for 35 years before moving to Cary in 2005.
His wife died in 2007 after battling lung disease. But Wysocki found companionship from employees at the Lowe’s on Maynard Road in Cary, where he worked in the plumbing department.
Wysocka described her dad as a “sweet, generous, caring soul.”
Wysocka said Engel had had no contact with Wysocki in over a year.
Asked why Engel might want to hurt her dad, Wysocka had no answer.
“His murder was senseless and tragic,” she said. “Eric Engel’s actions were simply unexplainable.”