Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Steven Pietrowicz (age 41), of Burrillville, RI, pleaded guilty today to the May 2015 murder of Domingo Ortiz (age 60), of Worcester, MA. Appearing before Superior Court Justice Netti C. Vogel, Pietrowicz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of second degree murder, one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, and one count of failure to report a death. Under the terms of the plea, Pietrowicz was sentenced to life for the count of second degree murder and the maximum penalty for all remaining counts, to run concurrent.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove that on or about May 5, 2015, Pietrowicz and co-conspirator Michelle Morin picked up Ortiz, with whom they were familiar, and drove back to their residence in Burrillville. Staying at the house were co-conspirator Corey Bickhardt and his girlfriend Denise Walker.
Throughout the day, the defendant, Morin and Ortiz drank alcohol. At some point in the late evening or early morning hours on May 6, 2017, a verbal altercation took place and then Pietrowicz and Morin physically assaulted Ortiz, striking him in the face and body with their fists and a baseball bat. The following day, the defendant and Bickhardt decided they could not release the victim and kept him in the basement of the property while they hatched a plan. On or about May 7, 2015, Pietrowicz and Bickhardt dug a hole in the backyard and thereafter strangled Ortiz to death and buried his body in the backyard. Pietrowicz further tried to cover up the crime by pouring cement and constructing a deck over the hole.
Concerned for his safety, members of the victim's family filed a missing person's report with the Worcester Police Department. They also went to the residence in Burrillville to inquire about the victim's whereabouts, where they were told lies by the defendant and turned away. Not satisfied, family members contacted Elizabeth Tarasiak, the owner and landlord of the property in Burrillville, asking they be allowed to search the property, only for her to call the Burrillville Police to have the family removed from the property.
Burrillville Police and the Rhode Island State Police obtained search warrants for the property on May 21, 2015, and found physical evidence that led them to question the defendant and co-conspirators. Through information obtained gathered by the interviews, the police obtained a second warrant for the property on May 29, 2017, when they discovered the body of Mr. Ortiz.
Burrillville Police Detective Lt. Guy Riendeau, Major Dennis Leahey, and Inspector Michael Bouchard led the investigation, with the assistance of the Rhode Island State Police. Assistant Attorney General Scott Erickson and Special Assistant Attorney General Kaitlin Tracey prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.