Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Matthew Gumkowski (age 34), formerly of West Warwick, was sentenced to life plus a consecutive 45 years in prison today by Superior Court Justice Netti C. Vogel for the May 11, 2011 murder of 42-year old Michael DiRaimo.
Gumkowski was found guilty by jury in June 2016 of one count of first degree murder and one count of first degree arson.
During the trial, jurors heard that Gumkowski killed DiRaimo by slitting his throat, after which he set fire to a utility shed on a property on Sophia Street in Providence in an attempt to cover up the murder. Gumkowski and DiRaimo were familiar with one another and believed to have exchanged drugs for sex.
On May 11, 2011, Providence Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at approximately 10:00 p.m. While extinguishing the fire, the body of Michael DiRaimo was found face down, naked and severely burned. An autopsy determined that DiRaimo was killed before the fire and the cause of death was a result of a loss of blood due to a cut to his neck, approximately 12 inches long.
Police subpoenaed DiRaimo's cell phone records where a series of text exchanges were discovered between DiRaimo and an unknown person where DiRaimo accused the person of stealing his drugs and threatened to expose the person's homosexual lifestyle to the person's girlfriend, friends and co-workers. In total, records showed 80 texts and phone calls between the two within 48 hours before DiRaimo's murder. Texts also showed that on the night of the murder, the person agreed to meet with DiRaimo.
Providence Police had not identified the person that DiRaimo had texted and spoke with right before his death until in July 2011, when Providence Police Detective Kenneth Court learned of a similar crime in Attleboro, MA. Attleboro Police had arrested Matthew Gumkowski as the suspect in that murder and arson. The cell phone number Gumkowski listed on the Attleboro Police booking report was the same phone number from the DiRaimo murder. During a search of Gumkowski's residence, police found a cell phone later determined to belong to DiRaimo. DNA from the telephone was a match to Gumkowski.
On October 31, 2014, Gumkowski was found guilty by a Bristol County, MA jury of first degree murder and arson for the July 2011 murder of 50-year-old Joseph Kilrow and is currently serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole.
"Matthew Gumkowski exchanged sex for drugs and then murdered Michal DiRaimo out of fear his lifestyle would be exposed to colleagues and friends. He almost got away with his gruesome crime had it not been for the excellent police work by Providence Police Detective Ken Court and Assistant Attorney General Scott Erickson. Recognizing similarities between this crime and one in Massachusetts, Detective Court and AAG Erickson put the pieces of the puzzle together that led to the arrest and successful prosecution of this extremely violent defendant," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Providence Police Detective Kenneth Court led the investigation and Assistant Attorney General Scott Erickson prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.