Accused Linden strangler says he awoke to body on floor of bloody home
LINDEN — A man accused of killing a woman on New Year's Eve in his city apartment maintains his innocence, saying that he woke up on his couch to find his friend's naked and bruised body on the kitchen floor.
Edward Sokowski was arrested and charged with murder in the strangulation death of 62-year-old Kim Lewandowski. He had called 911 about 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 and said his friend was hurt.
Responding officers said they found an unconscious Lewandowski with fresh cuts on her face, bruises on her head, neck and torso and dried blood on her body, according to a criminal complaint filed in Superior Court in Union County.
Police also reported finding blood smeared on the floor and walls of the kitchen, bathroom and stairs leading to the outside door, as well as what looked to be a blood-soaked mop.
Sokowski, also 62, said he and Lewandowski had watched TV before he fell asleep on the couch around 2:30 p.m., 10 feet or so from where his friend's body was found.
He told police, according to the complaint, that he woke up several hours later, having no idea what had happened and guessed that maybe "she fell."
Sokowski said he mopped some blood while on the phone with 911 dispatchers, police said. He said he partly covered Lewandowski with a blanket and put a sweatshirt under her head, according to police.
Responding officers found no sign of a break-in.
An autopsy of Lewandowski's body found broken ribs, a broken neck bone and brain bleeding. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.
Sokowski told investigators that he had known Lewandowski since they were in high school. He said that he had invited her to come stay with him about five and a half months earlier as she "had fallen on hard times," police said.
Police said neighbors had heard Sokowski and Lewandoski arguing loudly in the past, and Sokowski also said they sometimes argued.
The Union County Prosecutor's Office had not disclosed a potential motive in the killing as of Monday.
An obituary for Lewandowski said she was a graduate of Linden High School and William Paterson University, and had moved to Barnegat several years ago.
She is survived by her three adult children. A memorial gathering will be held in the spring.
Sokowski has been held at Union County Jail and is slated for a court hearing on Feb. 25. New Jersey 101.5 did not know Monday whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.