Horrifying Double Murder in California

This is not the kind of story I usually blog about, but it’s so bizarre and so horrible that I can’t stop thinking about it.

A Brooklyn-raised Marine sergeant and his new bride were tortured and killed execution-style in their California home – allegedly by four other Marines under his command.

Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak, who was raised in Bensonhurst, and his wife, Quiana, were found bound and gagged in the ransacked house, each shot in the head.

What I keep asking myself is, Why? Why? Why would four young Marines torture and murder their commanding officer and his new wife? Were they getting revenge for some unspeakable terrible act that Sgt. Pietrzak had done, or that they thought he had done? Was it because Pietrzak’s bride was black? Did the Marines have criminal records that the military either failed to catch or deliberately overlooked in order to meet their recruitment goals?

It’s the atrocity of what they did, going beyond simple murder, that is so incomprehensible. Obviously they didn’t just want to kill him, or her. This was about hatred, at a level that’s difficult to fathom.

There is something behind this that ties to something larger. I don’t know what it is yet, but I have a feeling we’re going to hear more about this.

10 Responses to “Horrifying Double Murder in California”

  1. Dan Collins says:

    Could it be racial hatred, because of the miscegenation?

  2. Chief says:

    My take here
    http://libertystreet.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/another-tragedy/

    The trial may show a racial component, but I believe the perps were more about “getting even” for some perceived slight as their sergeant was trying to make them into good Marines. Any robbery or taking of items was a mere afterthought. E-5 sergeants don’t make much money.

  3. Kathy says:

    It could, Dan, and I asked that question in my post.

  4. SeanH says:

    Terrible story. Just an FYI on military terminology, by his rank Sgt. Pietrzak would have been something like their squad leader or platoon sgt, equivilent to a near-bottom-level manager. Anyone who could be considered their commanding officer (company, batallion, etc commander) would be several rungs up the ladder, generally a captain or above in rank.

  5. M says:

    Only black people would do something like this

  6. Kathy says:

    Thanks for the clarification on military terminology, Sean. Would it be correct to say that the Marines in question were under Pietrzak’s command, if you didn’t use the term commanding officer?

  7. Chief says:

    Would it be correct to say that the Marines in question were under Pietrzak’s command,
    No, that would not be correct. They were both in the same command.

    As a Chief, I was responsible for about 37 men going to and coming back from Antarctica. I was responsible for making sure they knew where to be and when to be there, for getting organizational gear picked up, for scheduling civilian contract workers and a whole host of other things but I would never consider them under “my” command. They can only be under the Commanding Officer’s command.

    SeanH gives a much more succinct explanation than I could.

  8. Kathy,
    This has been weighing heavily on my mind, as well. This is local news for me, as I am in Oceanside, California.
    Here is a local news take on it, that speculates that the motivation was robbery: http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2008/11/04/news/californian/riverside/zf43191872261bcfe882574f800072170.txt
    My first husband (who I am still very close friends with) is a GySgt in Pietrzak’s squadron. It is a tragic situation. My thoughts are with their families.

  9. Kathy says:

    Teach, the idea that the motive was robbery is so absurd that I can’t even think of a word strong enough. Absurd is not strong enough.

    These Marines did not force their way into the home of another Marine they served under, and tie up and gag the Marine and the woman he had just married, rape her, torture them, and then murder them — because they wanted to commit a ROBBERY. There are a lot easier ways to score a robbery than to break into your former marine sergeant’s home and torture and murder him and his wife execution style. It really makes me very angry that anyone would even suggest that that’s a legitimate possible motive.

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