Psychiatrist admits hiding body in backyard; arraigned on charges including possession of crack cocaine

January 17, 2014

Dr. William Lewek admitted that he hid the body of Matthew Straton in his backyard under a patio chair and a pile of dirt, grass and other debris, court papers allege.

Police also allege that they found 17 small bags of crack cocaine at his house at 27 Rowley St. The drugs were stuffed into the toe of a white sneaker in Lewek's bedroom, police Investigator Michael Houlihan alleges in court papers made available Friday.

Police found Matthew Straton's body behind Lewek's home Wednesday evening. Late Thursday night, they charged Lewek, a 62-year-old psychiatrist, with tampering with physical evidence and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, both felonies.

Court papers do not indicate how Straton died. A criminal complaint from police Investigator Randy Benjamin accuses Lewek of preventing police "from conducting a thoroughly proper investigation into" Straton's death.

While the family of 32-year-old Matthew Straton said early Thursday that police suspected the remains were those of Matthew, the decomposition of the body made identification difficult.

Jeremy Straton, a younger brother of Matthew, came to the city street where media gathered Thursday morning. After a long hug with another brother, Corey, he told the media about the suspicions that Matthew had been found.

"They said it looked like he had been there a while," Jeremy Straton said about the police conversation with his mother. " ... I wanted it to end but not like this."

Lewek bought the Rowley Street home in 2002, records show.

Lewek received his New York medical license on March 30, 1979, according to records on the state Department of Health website.

He is board certified in addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine and geriatric psychiatry.

There was no record on the website of the state's Office of Professional Medical Conduct of any action against Lewek.

Lewek was a volunteer clinical supervisor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He would work with residents on a particular patient's case, according to URMC spokeswoman Teri D'Agostino.

Residents are assigned to a supervisor, taking into account the resident's interest and the strengths of the supervisor.

D'Agostino wrote in an email that Lewek had served as a supervisor "for a couple of decades and was well regarded by the residents he taught (who complete reviews on volunteer supervisors)."

D'Agostino said Lewek currently was working with a resident who went out on maternity leave in the last few weeks.

Source: Gary Craig, "Court docs: William Lewek admits hiding Matthew Straton's body in backyard," Democrat & Chronicle, January 17, 2014.


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