Court papers: Suspect hid Matthew Straton's body in yard with dirt, grass, patio chair

Posted at: 01/17/2014 7:43 AM
Updated at: 01/17/2014 5:25 PM

Rochester Police brought in a backhoe Friday to dig up a backyard where a body was found. Nearly 48 hours after police first arrived on scene, the investigation is still very active on Rowley Street in the Park Avenue neighborhood. News10NBC is waiting to hear if police have found anything else. 

The backhoe was digging in the backyard of 27 Rowley Street. The street is once again closed to traffic. Police found the body of 31-year-old Matthew Straton on Wednesday night. 

The owner of the home, Dr. William Lewek, a psychiatrist, has been arrested in connection with the investigation. He’s facing charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and tampering with evidence.

Earlier Friday, K-9 units searched the house. Police have been there all day long, carrying out boxes of evidence from inside the home and backyard. Police also brought tents, which are now up in the backyard. 

The court papers News10NBC obtained Friday accuse Dr. Lewek of taking Matthew Straton’s body from the third floor of his house and burying it in the backyard. At the bottom of the police complaint against Lewek, it says he admits to doing it. 

Police say Lewek did remove the body of Straton from the third floor bedroom of 27 Rowley Street, took it to the backyard and concealed the body by covering it with dirt, grass, debris and a patio chair. 

Dr. Lewek is also charged with drug possession. The court papers say police found 17 plastic bags of cocaine stuffed into the toe of a running shoe. It says he packaged the drugs with the intent of selling them. 

News10NBC has been looking deeper into Lewek’s background. He is the past president of the Genesee Valley Psychiatric Association and remains on the board. He is also affiliated with the Orleans Mental Health Association.

Lewek is being held in the Monroe County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. He is due in court on January 22 for a preliminary hearing.

Here’s the verbatim of our interview with Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Kelly Wolford:

Wolford: “This morning he was arraigned on a charge of tampering with physical evidence for basically burying Matthew Straton's body in his backyard which prevented police from performing an investigation and prevented any intervention from the medical examiner's office at that point in time.”
Brean: “Is there any thought that he killed Matthew Straton?”
Wolford: “At this point, it's an ongoing investigation. At this point the medical examiner's office is involved and it's still pending, the autopsy is still pending at this point.”
Brean: “So you don't know how Matthew died physically?”
Wolford: “Correct.”

Brean: “Is there any evidence to explain why he did what he did? Why someone would bury a body in their backyard?”
Wolford: “There is no explanation at this point that we can share. Obviously the tampering charge relates to the body being out there and him putting it there and that's all we have at this point.”
Brean: “Are you looking to find anything else at the house?”
Wolford: “Like I said the investigation is ongoing. It's a very large house and when have a crime scene such as that it can take a long time to go through the evidence carefully to make sure you have everything you need and they're taking their time and doing the right thing.”
Brean: “And are they looking for other bodies maybe?”
Wolford: “At this point you're looking for any type of physical evidence that relates to a crime being committed. So as we continue to look for evidence and clues as to how Matthew Straton died and how he ended up where he did. We're not looking for other bodies in particular, we're just looking for additional evidence at this point.”

Neighbors react to investigation

The investigation has impacted many people who live on Rowley Street or travel through the area. It seems as the hours go on, this investigation keeps growing on Rowley Street. For neighbors, the rumors are flying.

Many people who live around Rowley Street learned about the investigation by walking out their door Thursday and seeing the heavy police presence. Some people say there were surprised to see the road still closed Friday and many people still here.