A convicted killer is back on the streets 38 years after he and a partner brutally raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl on her way home from the library.
Richard LaBarbera, 66, was released from prison Monday despite outrage from the community and pleas from New York’s former governor George Pataki asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene in the parole board’s decision.
LaBarbera and Robert McCain were convicted of second-degree murder after authorities said the pair attacked 16-year-old Paula Bohovesky on Oct. 28, 1980 in the quiet community of Pearl River as the teen was walking home from her part-time job at the library.
Bohovesky was struck in the head with a concrete block, dragged from the sidewalk, repeatedly raped and stabbed to death.
Her family has strongly advocated for both killers to stay behind bars since they first came up for parole in 2005—but this year the parole board made the controversial decision to grant LaBarbera his release from the Cayuga Correctional Facility. McCain was recently denied parole at his hearing.
Bohovesky’s now 86-year-old mother Lois Bohovesky told The Journal News Monday that her daughter’s killers continue to haunt her nearly four decades after her daughter was brutally murdered.
"Like Paula is always with me, I am awfully aware of the men who did her such harm," she said. "Some people swear they don't think of people who harmed them. I don't know how they do that. I can't and never will."
While Lois Bohovesky and a large group of supporters had hoped they’d be able to convince the parole board to reconsider their decision, her attorneys were able to arrange for LaBarbera to be released to a parole office in Buffalo, hours away from her home.
"I am just glad I am not going to see him walking down Middletown Road," she told the local paper. "I always knew there was a chance he would get out. It's not pleasant. I am not happy he's walking around free while Paula is dead."
LaBarbera has also been ordered by an Albany judge to stay at least three counties away from Lois Bohovesky. A hearing later this month will determine whether those restrictions should become a permanent part of his release conditions.
The parole board’s decision to release the convicted killer was met with vocal opposition from the community and former political leaders in the state.
Last month, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Pearl River to walk the same path Bohovesky had walked the night she was killed. They hoped that the candlelight vigil would prompt New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ask the parole board to reconsider its decision. The governor doesn't have unilateral power to overturn the parole board's ruling.
Paula’s niece, Abigail Bohovesky also launched a YouTube campaign titled “Say Something” she hoped would capture the governor’s attention.
“They have expressed no remorse or genuine understanding that killing children is evil,” she said in the video.
Lois Bohovesky said she and others will continue to fight against McCain’s release in future years.
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