Former New York Gov. George Pataki called a parole board’s decision to release the killer of a 16-year-old girl a “gross injustice” and urged current Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene, as the backlash against the controversial decision continues to mount.
Richard LaBarbera, 66, has spent the last 38 years in prison for the heinous 1980 murder of 16-year-old Paula Bohovesky, who was brutally attacked, raped and killed by LaBarbera and Robert McCain as she was walking home from her job at the Pearl River Library.
But LaBarbera, who was sentenced to serve 25 years to life, may soon be walking the streets after a state parole board voted to release the convicted killer in July.
A parole board will hold a hearing to consider McCain’s parole this week, according to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
The decision to release LaBarbera—and possibility that a similar decision could soon be reached for McCain—has outraged the victim’s family and sparked a community-wide effort to voice their disapproval for the decision.
Those opposed to the decision will join together Saturday for a candlelight vigil remembering Bohovesky and activists have also released a video titled “Say Something” voiced by Bohvesky’s niece, Abigail Bohovesky, aimed at capturing Gov. Cuomo’s attention.
“They have expressed no remorse or genuine understanding that killing children is evil,” Abigail Bohovesky says in the video.
The case has even garnered the attention of Pataki, who believes current Gov. Cuomo “should urge the parole board to reverse this horrible decision,” according to Fox News.
He called the parole board’s decision an “outrage” in a statement to the news organization.
“Having a vicious murderer like this who has shown no remorse out on the street should never happen in New York State,” he said. “This decision should be reversed.”
But according to the Journal News, Cuomo can’t overrule parole decisions. Community activists, however, hope the attention and outrage will make the parole board reconsider the possibility of McCain’s parole as well as spark a larger conversation about the release of convicted murderers.
“Rather than build new prisons to fix overcrowding, the state has dumped the problem back on our door step,” Abigail Bohovesky, who never had the chance to meet her murdered aunt, said in the video.
The video urges Gov. Cuomo to “say something” about the parole board’s decision.
Pataki hopes Gov. Cuomo can pressure the parole board to change their decision—a sentiment shared by the victim’s mother Lois Bohovesky.
“If Gov. Cuomo can do anything, please for God’s sake, reverse the decision,” she told Fox News earlier this month.
Lois Bohovesky said neither man has ever shown any remorse or accepted responsibility for the heinous crime.
“The medical examiner said he’d never seen so brutal an attack,” she said.
However, in its decision to release LaBarbera, the three-person review board wrote that the decision to release him had been because of the remorse he’d shown.
“The panel considered the brutality of your instant offense, where you and your co-defendant beat and stabbed your 16-year-old female victim,” they wrote according to the Rockland/Westchester Journal News. “During your interview, you expressed what appeared to be sincere remorse and your overall record reflects not only low (risk to the community) but maturity over the almost 39 years of incarceration.”
They noted, however, that the release “in no way mitigates the seriousness and senseless loss of life nor does it alienate the life long pain of your victim’s family and community.”
A Savage Crime
The murder rocked and irrevocably changed the small community, located about a half hour outside of New York City.
“In my more than 50 years living in Orangetown and serving in the local government, I have never seen or heard of a person or event that reached so deeply and permanent into the very hearts, minds and memories of this town as this sweet innocent beautiful child and how she left us,” Rockland County Legislator John Murphy, whose children went to school with the victim, wrote in an email to the local paper.
Bohovesky, an honor student and gifted artist, had been walking home from her part-time job at the library just after 7 p.m. on Oct. 28, 1980 when she was spotted by LaBarbera and McCain, who had been drinking at a nearby bar.
McCain hit Bohovesky with a chunk of pavement, knocking her out and then dragged her behind an abandoned home. He sexually assaulted her while LaBarbera looked on. LaBarbera eventually tried to sexually assault the 16-year-old himself after he believed she was dead.
But Bohovesky stirred, surprising him and he stabbed her five times in the back, Fox News reports.
Both men were later found guilty of the murder and sentenced the 25 years to life in jail, the harshest sentence for the crime at the time, WCBS-TV reports.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.