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Police arrest suspect in fatal Northway hit and run (update)

July 19, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Nearly eight months after Mary Morrissey was killed in a hit-and-run crash on the Adirondack Northway, state police investigators have arrested a suspect in the case.

Joseph F. Bohunicky Jr., 34, of West Nyack, was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident. He was arrested Tuesday evening on a warrant issued by Essex County Court Judge Richard B. Meyer.

Bohunicky was arraigned Wednesday before Meyer and was remanded to the Essex County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bail or a $10,000 bond. He is scheduled to reappear in Essex County Court on Oct. 4. He was still in jail this morning.

Article Photos

Joseph F. Bohunicky Jr.
(Photo courtesy of New York State Police

Morrissey, 65, was originally from AuSable Forks but was living with her brother, Thomas LaFountain, in Mechanicville at the time of her death. She was the passenger in a 2000 Geo Prism, driven by her brother, that was traveling north on I-87 in the town of Schroon around 7:20 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2011, when another northbound car struck it from behind. The Geo veered off the east side of the highway and hit a guardrail, careened back across the road and struck an earthen embankment.

Morrissey was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy later determined she died of blunt-force trauma. Her brother suffered facial cuts.

The car that rear-ended theirs left the scene. One day after police publicized a description of the vehicle - a light-colored Toyota Camry with the letters "DWD" on part of its license plate and substantial front-end damage - a car fitting that description was found pulled over on the side of the Palisades Parkway in Rockland County, north of New York City. The car was later brought to the state police Troop B headquarters in Ray Brook for a forensic investigation.

State police Lt. Scott Heggelke told the Enterprise Wednesday that several witnesses came forward after seeing media coverage about the collision. Those accounts, along with evidence obtained by the state police Troop B Collision Reconstruction Unit, led to the recovery of the Camry and the identification of Bohunicky as a suspect.

Heggelke said he couldn't release specific information about what forensic evidence connected the car and Bohunicky to the scene, referring those questions to Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague, who didn't return phone and email messages. Sprague had presented the case to a grand jury, Heggelke said.

"We obviously developed enough evidence that led to the indictment and the arrest of Mr. Bohunicky," Heggelke said.

In January, the Enterprise spoke with members of Morrissey's family, some of whom live in AuSable Forks, who expressed frustration at the lack of an arrest at that point in the case.

Heggelke said police had to do their due diligence.

"We were confident that we had the correct vehicle, and we had identified the person who was driving," he said. "The forensic investigation takes a lot of time. They gather their evidence, and they have to send it to the lab for them to, in turn, examine that evidence and give us their conclusions. That, unfortunately, takes a lot of time."

Heggelke said police had contacted Morrissey's family to tell them an arrest had been made. A family member whom the Enterprise contacted Wednesday afternoon confirmed that they had been made aware of the arrest but declined to comment any further.



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