Ewa Berwid knew she was going to die at the hands of her husband and she was powerless to stop it. The system failed to protect her; the courts, the police, and the psychiatrist who was treating her husband.

To the outside world they seemed like the ideal family; close knit, devoutly religious, especially Adam. Adam and Ewa emigrated to America from Poland in 1969. They both eventually found employment as engineers and moved to a modest house in Minelola, Long Island. The couple would also have two children, daughter Olga and son Adam. Problems in their marriage appeared shortly thereafter. Ewa continued to work and advanced rapidly in her career. She eventually earned more than Adam who became jealous of her success. He attempted to open his own nuclear engineering consulting firm but was unable to make a go of it. His behavior became increasingly strange and he began to focus his anger directly on Ewa. When she was changing little Adam's diaper he accused her of sodomizing him. They argued with increasing frequency and eventually the fights became physical. One glimpse Ewa had of Adam's terrifying dark side came when he dragged her down the stairs by her hair and threw her out the front door. She applied for and was granted a protective order which Adam blithely ignored. Ewa had him arrested and filed for divorce.

While in the Nassau County Jail, Adam began writing death threats to Ewa. He promised to strangle her...."push her ribs right through her back." During an appearance in open court he announced his intentions to take her life if she did not relinquish custody of the children. He lunged for her and had to be tackled by sheriff's deputies. Judge Joseph DeMaro ordered a psychiatric evaluation and Adam was sent to the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center for 90 days of observation. One of the psychiatrist's who had done the initial evaluation of Adam Berwid warned the court that he was a genius and that he would be able to use his intelligence to convince the center that he was sane. In an unprecedented maneuver Judge DeMaro would write the hospital warning them to use extreme caution with Adam because he believed "the defendant intends to carry out his threat". An assistant D.A. wrote "Berwid is a homicidal threat....We have no doubt that if he is released, we will be reading about the murder of Ewa Berwid in Newsday at some time in the future." Faced with the potential for disaster, Mid-Hudson recommitted Berwid as an involuntary civil patient for another six months. After nine months Adam was transferred to Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood, NY. When Ewa learned that Adam had been transferred to a minimum security facility 30 miles from Mineola, her friends urged her to take the children and disappear. Ewa refused to go. She knew that if Adam truly wanted her dead that he would hunt her down no matter how far she ran. All she could do was hope that he was really getting better. On April 5, 1979 Adam would escape from Pilgrim for the first time. When the hospital discovered that he was missing they notified Ewa. Two days later she found him asleep in her bedroom when she returned home. He was returned to Pilgrim and within a week he escaped again. This time he showed up at Olga's school demanding to take her home. These escapes earned him a trip back to maximum security at Mid-Hudson. Adam decided to put his genius to work and stopped acting out. He appeared "sane" enough to be transferred back to Pilgrim. Berwid's file was red flagged: POLICE MUST BE NOTIFIED IF PATIENT ESCAPES. However Adam would not need to escape, he would be granted the freedom to carry out his threat by way of a day pass and because of this Ewa would not find out until it was to late! Adam became a "model patient" and just two weeks after his arrival his psychiatrist, Dr. Irving Blumenthal, granted him a day pass. A day pass allowed a patient to leave the hospital unescorted, it was considered a part of therapy and therefore law enforcement was not entitled to notification. A little after 10 a.m. on December 6, 1979, Adam Berwid left Pilgrim on the pretext of going to Bay Shore to by a winter coat. Adam Berwid already had a coat! Instead Berwid boarded a train bound for Mineola. Ewa was at home cooking dinner for herself and her two children when she heard the sound of glass breaking in the basement. She ran to the phone and dialed 911. The emergency operator answered but before Ewa could identify herself and her location Adam grabbed her and plunged the knife into her neck. As he stabbed her over and over again and again, the operator could hear sounds of a violent struggle and a woman's voice crying "He's killing me...I'm dying...Oh, God...Oh, God." There was stark silence and the line went dead as the receiver was placed back in its cradle.

Adam then methodically cleaned up the scene. He boarded up the broken window, cleaned the blood from the kitchen floor. He washed the blood from himself and Ewa then placed her on a cot covered her with a blanket and placed candles on either side of her body. He sat with the body all night. The next morning the postman arrived with a mailgram which Adam signed for. It was from Pilgrim informing Ewa that her husband had escaped! Adam next placed a call to the District Attorney's office and spoke with an assistant D.A. he calmly informed him that he had murdered his wife. When the police arrived Adam showed them to where he had placed Ewa's body.

Adam went on trial for murder and acted as his own attorney. He fully expected to be exonerated. He felt that he was justified in killing his wife because God had told him that she was harming their children. He was sentenced to 35 years to life and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

Because of the senseless murder of Ewa Berwid New York passed laws allowing district attorneys to object if a patient is moved to a hospital with less security and the State Office of Mental Health no longer allowed the issuing of day passes.

Post based on:

Murder: By Reason Of Insanity(1985) - Starring Candice Bergen and Jugen Prochnow

Murder On A Day Pass by Teresa Carpenter


Anonymous said...

Each and every one of the people involved with his multiple releases and eventual access to Ewa should have been charged with criminal negligence.

Anonymous said...

Ewa Berwid had a gun in the house. It is a shame that she ran for the phone instead of the gun. ewa should have killed this crazy bastard in self defense and sent his worthless ass to hell. SHE SHOULD HAVE KILLED ADAM BERWID. I hope this crazy bastard dies in prison.

Anonymous said...

I sat on this Grand Jury; We indicted Berwid within a half hour and investigated the Mental Health Department for several months but could not bring charges against doctors. I am not sure what I can or cannot say about the process but it was more detail and more sinister from the states activity then reported here. The District Attorney Green was very seriously pursuing those at fault for this horrible murder.

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