Paragraph 6 reads: "As he stood in federal court in Boston yesterday to face charges of attempted murder for hire, Orlowski, 49, told the judge he was somewhat confused because he suffers from depression and had not taken his medication for several weeks."
By Shelley Murphy and John R. Ellement, Globe Staff | May 22, 2007
BEVERLY -- They have been married 20 years and have a 9-year-old daughter, seemingly just another ordinary couple living in a large, yellow Colonial- style house in the city's Rial Side neighborhood.
But on Jan. 2, John Orlowski's wife called 911 to report that they got into a scuffle when he came home looking for his blue checkbook, then twisted her arm and ran off with her purse when he couldn't find it.
"His moods are unpredictable," Kelly Orlowski wrote in court papers filed the day of the confrontation, seeking a restraining order against her husband. She said he had recently undergone shock therapy at a local hospital and had become verbally abusive, bad-mouthing her to neighbors and demanding she move out.
"He owns many firearms, and I'm not comfortable with this," she wrote. "I am afraid of him."
Her fears were well founded, according to the FBI.
Agents arrested John Orlowski last Friday after he allegedly offered a Crips gang member he met behind bars $2,000 to kill his wife, mother-in-law, and child. An FBI agent's affidavit says Orlowski described the layout of the Bridge Street house and specific instructions on how to kill: Leave the house in disarray and plant drugs in hidden spots so it looks like a drug-related home invasion. Shoot the women twice in the head to make sure they are dead. And shoot his daughter only once in the chest so there could be an open-casket wake.
As he stood in federal court in Boston yesterday to face charges of attempted murder for hire, Orlowski, 49, told the judge he was somewhat confused because he suffers from depression and had not taken his medication for several weeks.
US Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hillman ordered Orlowski be kept in custody until a hearing Thursday on the prosecution's request to keep him jailed without bail until the case is resolved.
Lawrence lawyer James P. Roche, who represents Orlowski, said his client will plead not guilty to the charges. Outside the courthouse yesterday, Roche told reporters that Orlowski was sullen and "looks genuinely depressed; he looks remorseful."
Lisa Orlowski's father, James Cashman of Florida, called the case heart-breaking and bizarre and said the family is very concerned about the impact it will have on his granddaughter.
He said he was dismayed to learn that the maximum penalty for someone convicted of attempted murder for hire is only 10 years in prison. "That's ridiculous," he said in a telephone interview. "Down here you get more time for killing a manatee. . . . That little girl will only be 19 when he gets out. She will be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life."
John Orlowski, who runs a car repossession business and a separate contracting business, was released on $500 bail after his Jan. 2 arrest on the domestic assault charge. A judge issued a restraining order prohibiting Orlowski from contact with his wife. His license to carry firearms was revoked and police seized 121 guns from his home, including rifles, shotguns, and handguns, including some that were improperly stored in Tupperware containers in his garage, according to police reports.
The next day, Beverly police arrested Orlowski, saying he violated the restraining order by calling his wife. They discovered that Orlowski had stashed a loaded Glock pistol in a crock pot at his parents' home, directly behind the home where his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law were living, accord ing to a police report. He was released on $500 bail.
While out on bail, Orlowski filed for divorce, citing an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and seeking custody of his daughter. His wife filed a counterclaim, seeking sole custody of their daughter.
On Feb. 14, he was arrested at gunpoint by police in a shed behind his wife's house and charged with violating the restraining order again. He said he had gone there to collect $20,000 cash. Police charged him with illegal possession of a machine gun after Kelly Orlowski called to report she had found a MAC-10 in the shed.
While Orlowski was serving a 60-day sentence in the Middleton jail for violating the restraining order, he met a self-professed member of the Crips gang and, when they were both released, hired him to kill his family, according to the FBI affidavit filed in federal court.
The gang member agreed to kill Orlowski's family, "but he had no intention of doing so," the affidavit says. Instead, he was troubled by the prospect of killing the daughter and alerted his mother, who notified the FBI about the alleged plot.