Police say 2 men responsible for Jamaica Plain killing
Brenda Pawlowski, a mother of three, was probably kneeling when she was fatally shot in the head on a hilly snow-covered backyard in Jamaica Plain almost nine months ago, a crime that went unsolved, prosecutors said in court yesterday, until Thursday, when two 29-year-old Mattapan men were accused.
“It was an extremely violent crime, and nobody has the right to take someone’s life, so when we heard that they had caught someone, we were very pleased,’’ said Kathleen Pawlowski, 61, the victim’s sister.
Christopher Howard was charged in West Roxbury District Court yesterday with murder and carrying a firearm without a license. He was held without bail pending a Nov. 21 probable cause hearing. Codefendant Larry Pack, already in jail on other charges, is expected to be arraigned on the murder charge by the end of next week.
Howard wore a black T-shirt and as he strode into the courtroom he blew a kiss to relatives in the second row. Moments later, tears streamed from the eyes of those family members as the arraignment started. Howard pleaded not guilty.
At 5 a.m. on Feb. 8, a loud bang woke many neighbors living near 21 Kenney St., but it was not until 7:15 a.m. that someone discovered Pawlowski’s body in the yard, Ursula Knight, assistant Suffolk district attorney, said during yesterday’s arraignment.
After identifying the victim, authorities called Pawlowski’s family and were told that she had battled drug addiction for many years and often drifted from address to address. But family members gave investigators phone numbers they had used to contact her, and that led police to an address in Roxbury.
“That is where the investigation began to unfold,’’ Knight said.
Howard and Pack picked up Pawlowski, 49, and drove her to Jamaica Plain, where they shot her, Knight said. The purpose of the trip was unclear, and Knight did not specify the nature of the relationship, if one existed, between the men and Pawlowski.
Pack has been in jail since March awaiting trial on drug and gun charges. He is being held on $7,500 cash bail and is due back in Suffolk Superior Court on Nov. 2 on the gun and drug charges.
Police found a handgun in a Roxbury apartment where Pack was arrested in March and tied the weapon to Pawlowski’s killing, Knight said.
He would remain in jail on the new charges if he were to post that bail, authorities said. Pack has an extensive criminal record that includes convictions for assault and battery and rape of a child in 2001, according to law enforcement sources. It was unclear whether Howard had a prior criminal history.
Kathleen Pawlowski said yesterday that she informed her sister’s children of the arrests. “It did bring some relief for myself and our mother and also for Brenda’s two boys,’’ she said.
Pawlowski said her sister attended Brockton High School and loved to sing and dance. Brenda Pawlowski spent her last Christmas with her family, including her sons.
She was not working at the time of her death and went back and forth from Boston and her mother’s home in West Bridgewater, Kathleen said. She leaves a teenage daughter, Sarah Willette of Brockton, and two sons in their 20s, Derek Willette, a National Guard reservist in New York, and Dean Willette, a contractor living in Brockton.
“She said it was the best Christmas she ever had,’’ said Pawlowski. “I had really high hopes that she was turning her life around.’’