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47-YEAR-OLD SON FOUND LIVING WITH DECEASED MOTHER POLICE REPORT MAN REFUSED TO BELIEVE ELDERLY PARENT DIED

The body of a 77-year-old woman who died at least six months ago was discovered Wednesday, seated in the living room chair of her home at 62 Rossler Ave. in Cheektowaga.

Police said the woman, Florence V. Kowalewski, lived with her 47-year-old son, who refused to believe she was dead.

"She had been dead for more than six months and under a year," said Lt. Thomas Rowan, the Police Department's scientific bureau chief. "An autopsy was inconclusive in determining the official cause or the manner of her death. It is probably natural, though, based on our investigation."

Rowan declined to release the name of the son, who was admitted to the Erie County Medical Center for evaluation.

"He was at home with his mother and denied she was dead when police told him," Rowan said.

Two neighbors -- Theresa Wagner and Leonard Krajewski -- who knew the family for years, identified the son as Louis Kowalewski. Both neighbors described the mother and son as loners.

"It is a sad case," Rowan said.

Town police were called to the house in a quiet residential neighborhood off Dingens Street near Harlem Road by Tina Viverto, a social worker with the town's Outreach Services for Senior Citizens.

Mrs. Kowalewski had been a client, and Ms. Viverto went to the house to investigate after receiving a notice that the utilities were going to be shut off, Rowan said.

Ms. Viverto -- seeing an apparent accumulation of mail and getting no answer to her knocks on the door -- became concerned and called police at 1:36 p.m., he said.

Police kicked in a side door, Rowan stated. The son was in the kitchen and was not alarmed or startled, he added.

"We asked him where his mother was, and he told us in the living room," Rowan said.

"My husband and I haven't seen her for two years," Mrs. Wagner said. "We lived next door to them for 32 years and we'd say hello to them but they kept to themselves."

Krajewski, who lives three doors away, also said it was about two years since he saw the mother.

"The Kowalewskis were living in their house before me and I lived here for 29 years," Krajewski said. "I got along good with him and we talked a little bit when I saw him outside."

Asked why none of the neighbors called police, he said, ". . . They were the kind of people that just didn't want to be bothered. So we left them alone."

Mrs. Kowalewski was widowed for 31 years, Mrs. Wagner said. .

Rowan said police last went to the house on June 13 to check on the welfare of Kowalewskis.

"The son met the officers at the door and was very lucid," Rowan said. "They asked about his mother and he said she was not well and was in bed under doctor's orders. He said she was suffering from diabetes and cancer."

"Right now we have no crime and no sign of any foul play," he said.

"It appears Mrs. Kowalewski died in her bed," Rowan said. "Her body was moved at least once and maybe another time in the house. It was in an advanced stage of (putrefaction) and there was some mummification."

The son did not have a full-time job and police believe he lived on the pension and savings of his mother. The town last year forced Kowalewski to cut the high grass on the property, police said.

"He has not cut it since then," said Mrs. Wagner, pointing to the high grass and uncut shrubbery in front of the house.

She said the son stayed inside and rarely ventured out, except at night.

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